Thursday, November 10, 2016

How To Die In Peace?

            Some Christians may be absolutely terrified by the prospect of death. How could they overcome their fear?  

            Death, to a Christian, is the gateway to heaven. If death leads a Christian to heaven – a place without injustice, evil and suffering, then one could wonder why a Christian should fear death.

            Apostle Paul did not fear death (Philippians 1: 21). Christ’s disciples did not fear death for they voluntarily chose death over life. Andrew, the brother of Peter, preached the gospel of Christ for two days after being scourged and nailed to the cross.1


            Hebrews 2: 14-15 says that we should not fear death, “…that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.” (Emphasis Mine). The Bible does not mention the fear of death as a sin.

            Would we be genuine Christians if we fear death? Fear of death is not a criterion to decide the authenticity of one’s Christianity.2


            If those who were with Jesus abandoned HIM, what prevents us from abandoning the Lord? Christ’s disciples abandoned HIM because of their lack of faith in HIM (cf. John 6: 61-62, 66).

            Those who fear death could recant their faith under persecution. This is the most significant danger of being fearful of death.


            Instances of Christians not recanting their faith in the Lord and dying for HIM reinforce the possibility of Christians not fearing death. Other than those mentioned in the Bible, there are many instances where Christians have offered their lives for the sake of the Lord Jesus.

            Czech priest, Jan Hus, did not recant his faith in Christ and was executed.3 Eritrean refugee, Elsa, did not recant her faith in the Lord Jesus while being persecuted.4 We could go on and on.


            We possess a theoretical knowledge of death, but death is a virtual unknown to the living. Hence, the “fear of unknown” is a possibility. But is it a valid possibility?

            If Christians have offered their lives voluntarily, it is obvious that the “fear of unknown” could be overcome. How do we overcome this fear?

            It is possible that those Christians who fear death do not believe that they would be with the Lord upon their death. If one’s faith is in question, the understandable need is to strengthen their faith in Christ.

            How do we strengthen our faith in Christ? Love for the Lord is the only means to strengthen our faith in Christ.

            Christians do love the Lord; else they would not be Christians to begin with. But how do we increase our love for the Lord so to not fear death?

            Immersing ourselves in the knowledge of God’s Word is an important prerequisite to love the Lord. Have we read and studied God’s Word to an extent that HIS Word remains in our mind always (cf. Deuteronomy 11: 18)?

            Studying the Bible and prayer goes hand in hand. Prayer intensifies our relationship with God. Prayer is an act of not only speaking with God, but being constantly vigilant to receive God’s counsel into our lives. The precious Holy Spirit counsels us always. We only need to receive HIS holy counsel into our life.

            If we fear death, let us not worry, for we have a way forward. That way forward is for us to plunge into studying the Bible and praying to the living God.

            God is the only one who can remove the fear of death from our lives. HE would replace that unholy fear with love. When we are utterly certain of HIS love for us, we would instinctively love HIM more than ever.

            If we fear death, we should also talk to our pastor or an elder of our church or a godly person whom God has placed in your life.

            Some Christians may not fear death per se, but they may fear loneliness or a painful sickness that could lead to death. In this instance, they do not fear death; rather they fear the possibility of severe pain in their lives.

            The best testimony I have heard in this very context is that of Mabel. Here is the story of Mabel as narrated by Dr. William Lane Craig, “I saw an old woman strapped in a wheelchair. Her face was an absolute horror. The empty stare and white pupils of her eyes told me that she was blind. The large hearing aid over one ear told me that she was almost deaf. One side of her face was being eaten by cancer. There was a discolored and running sore covering part of one cheek, and it had pushed her nose to the side, dropped one eye and distorted her jaw so that what should have been the corner of her mouth was the bottom of her mouth. As a consequence, she drooled constantly. I also learned later that this woman was 89 years old and that she had been bedridden, blind, nearly deaf, and alone for 25 years. This was Mabel.

            I don't know why I spoke to her. She looked less likely to respond than most of the people I saw in that hallway. But I put a flower in her hand and said, “Here is a flower for you, Happy Mother's Day!” She held the flower up to her face and tried to smell it, and then she spoke, and much to my surprise her words, though somewhat garbled because of her deformity, were obviously produced by a clear mind. She said, “Thank you, it's lovely, but can I give it to someone else? I can't see it you know, I'm blind.”

            I said, “Of course,” and I pushed her in her chair back down the hallway to a place where I thought I could find some alert patients. I found one and stopped the chair. Mabel held out the flower and said, “Here, this is from Jesus.”4

            It was then that it began to dawn on me that this was not an ordinary human being. . . . Mabel and I became friends over the next few weeks, and I went to see her once or twice a week for the next three years. . . . It was not many weeks before I turned from a sense that I was being helpful to a sense of wonder. And I would go to her with a pen and paper to write down the things she would say. . . .

            During one hectic week of final exams, I was frustrated because my mind seemed to be pulled in ten directions at once with all of the things that I had to think about. The question occurred to me, what does Mabel have to think about? Hour after hour, day after day, week after week, not even able to know if it is day or night. So I went to her and asked, “Mabel, what do you think about when you lie here?”

            And she said, “I think about my Jesus.”

            I sat there and thought for a moment about the difficulty for me of thinking about Jesus for even five minutes. And I asked, “What do you think about Jesus?” She replied slowly and deliberately as I wrote, and this is what she said,

            I think how good he has been to me. He has been awfully good to me in my life, you know. . . . I’m one of those kind who’s mostly satisfied. . . . Lots of folks would think I’m kind of old-fashioned. But I don't care. I'd rather have Jesus, he is all the world to me.

            And then Mabel began to sing an old hymn:

            Jesus is all the world to me,
            My life, my joy, my all.
            He is my strength from day to day,
            Without him, I would fall.
            When I am sad, to him I go.
            No other one can cheer me so.
            When I am sad, he makes me glad.
            He’s my friend.

            This is not fiction. Incredible as it may seem, a human being really lived like this. I know, I knew her. How could she do it? Seconds ticked and minutes crawled, and so did days and weeks and months and years of pain without human company and without an explanation of why it was all happening – and she laid there and sang hymns. How could she do it?

            The answer, I think, is that Mabel had something that you and I don't have much of. She had power. Lying there, in that bed, unable to move, unable to see, unable to hear, unable to talk. . . , she had incredible power.5”

            We need that power to not fear. That power is not in us. That power is God’s power. God alone can bless us with that power in our lives. God would enable us to be powerful if we look to HIM constantly by praying and studying HIS Word.

            We study the Bible when we are not suffering from any painful sickness. But when we are sick, we can pray to God. When we seek God, God will pour HIS power into our lives, so that we can remain peaceful.

            Let us trust in God always. God will enable us to be powerful Christians. Amen.   


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Rob Berkers said...

Best way to die in peace? Just accept that there is no afterlife.

Raj Richard said...

Hello Rob, There is afterlife. In fact, if there is no after life there cannot be total peace. The peace that we may possess, if at all, would be predicated on material wealth and success. Even if material success is in one's domain, there need not be peace, for there will be more worry and concern to protect one's material wealth and to sustain that success. Then again, those who are materially successful are a minority. Hence the majority of the population would be in chaos.