Thursday, July 30, 2009

Afraid of Death?

1 Peter 3:14: “Do not fear what they fear, do not be frightened.”

What do most people fear? This week I’ve done an informal survey and one answer was very clear—death. The second most common answer could be summarized as fear of the future or the fear of failure.

Peter, writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, encourages us not to be afraid. As we go through life, young to old, we experience different fears. We may be afraid of storms, afraid of the dark, afraid of dogs or any other collection of “temporary” fears. Hopefully, we overcome them or at least have an uneasy truce with them.

Death and fear of the future clearly stood out in my survey. For Christians, death is something we should not fear but I must admit that part of me considers it a bit mysterious.

In the health care debate, one question which lingers in the background is this: How long will we take extensive and expensive measures to preserve our life? (How much is enough?)

Last weekend I got a call from a cousin in Iowa. She is 72 and fighting cancer. She told me the story of her mother Grace who had very good health until she was 82 and then found out she had cancer. Grace called the family together, told them she had a great run; she was not going to do anything to fight the cancer. Grace lived for two more years. Her daughter said, “They were very special years.” Grace was a woman of devout faith and her trust in the Lord was the driving force in her decision.

Concerns loom about limiting health care options for elderly people. Have we discussed our personal desires with our families if are were faced with a situation similar to Grace’s? You may say her case was pretty much cut and dried. Yes, I admit it seems that way but possibly some in the family felt she should have mounted a fight.

When should we give up the fight? In many ways it is not our choice; the Lord can take us at any moment. Every breath we take is a gift from a merciful God. May we treasure every moment of our God given life.

But for many, hard decisions must be made; don’t put the burden of these decisions on your family alone. If we are Christians and we believe Christ rose victorious over death and sin, we shouldn't be afraid to die. Teach this to our families, communicate our wishes, verbally and in written form. In 1 Peter 4:19 it says: “So then, those who suffer according to God's will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.” Do this until the day we die.

May we, with peace, “entrust our souls to the Lord.” May the Holy Spirit help us die graciously. May we “entrust” or "commit" and not be “afraid.” Yes, the Lord holds the future and the day of our death will be the day that “we will be with Jesus”. Good news for us who believe. Don’t be afraid. Do not fear what the world fears.

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