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Jun 10, 2024 231 Father Joseph Gill, USA
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How can I overcome the fear of death?

Q – I am afraid of death. Although I believe in Jesus and hope in Heaven, I am still filled with anxiety at the unknown. How can I overcome this fear of death?

A – Imagine that you were born into a dungeon and unable to see the world outside. A door separates you from the world outside—the sunlight, the fresh air, the merriment…but you have no concept of these brighter, beautiful things, for your world is only this dark, musty space filled with decay. Every now and then, a person leaves through the door, to never return. You miss them, for they were your friends and you had known them your whole life! 

Now, imagine for a moment that someone from the outside comes in. He tells you of all the good things that you can experience outside of this dungeon. He knows of these things, for He has been there Himself. And because He loves you, you can trust Him. He promises you that He will walk through the door with you. Would you take His hand? Would you stand up and walk with Him through the door? It would be frightening, for you do not know what is on the outside, but you can have the courage that He does. If you know Him and love Him, then you will take His hand and walk through the door into the sunlight, into the grand world outside. It is frightening, but there is trust and hope.

Every human culture has had to wrestle with the fear of the unknown when we walk through that dark door of death. On our own, we have no idea what lies beyond the veil, but we do know Someone who has come from the other side to tell us about what eternity is like.

And what has He revealed? He has said that those who are saved “are before the throne of God,
and serve Him day and night in His temple, and He who sits on the throne will shelter them with His presence. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them,
nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and He will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” (Revelation 7:15-17) We are confident that eternal life is perfect love, abundant life, perfect joy. In fact, it is so good that “no eye has seen, no ear has heard, nor has the mind of man ever conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9)

But do we have any certainty that we will be saved? Isn’t there a chance that we won’t make it to that Heavenly paradise? Yes, it is true that it isn’t guaranteed. Yet, we are filled with hope because “God desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of truth.” (1 Timothy 2:3-4)  He desires your salvation more than you desire it yourself! So, He will do everything in His power to bring us to Heaven. He has already extended the invitation to you, written and signed in the Blood of His Son. It is our faith, lived out in our lives, which accepts such an invitation.

It is true we do not have certainty, but we do have hope, and “hope does not disappoint” (Romans 5:5). We are called to walk in humility and trust, knowing the power of the Savior, Who “came to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15).

Practically speaking, we can overcome the fear of death in a few ways. 

– First, focus on God’s promises of Heaven. He has said many other things in the Scriptures that fill us with an excited expectation of receiving the beautiful eternity He has prepared. We should burn with a desire for Heaven, which will lessen the fear of leaving this fallen, broken world behind. 

– Second, focus on God’s goodness and His love for you. He will never abandon you, even when passing into the unknown. 

– Finally, consider the ways that He has been present to you when you have had to enter into new and unknown lands–going off to college, getting married, buying a house. It can be frightening to do something for the first time because there is a fear of the unknown. But if God has been present in these new experiences, even more so will He take your hand as you walk through the door of death into the life that you have long desired!

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Father Joseph Gill

Father Joseph Gill is a high school chaplain and serves in parish ministry. He is a graduate from Franciscan University of Steubenville and Mount St. Mary’s Seminary. Father Gill has published several albums of Christian rock music (available on iTunes). His debut novel, “Days of Grace” is available on amazon.com.

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