when full of fear (specifically, the fear of death)

Sometimes I experience fear, and plenty of it. Some things don’t unduly frighten me. I’m not really scared of dying, though like anyone else I don’t want to die “before my time.” Those who are Calvinists might think what we do in life, or fail to do, doesn’t factor in to how long we live. There is no doubt that some of this is cloaked in mystery. After all, no matter what, one’s life can come to an end any day and for a whole host of reasons. The death we often fear is the kind that may overtake us in time due to some disease, and our helplessness to do anything about it. Or precious very little. Of course we in Jesus believe God can heal in answer to prayer, regardless of how dire the outlook and prognosis may be.

A recurring fear for me is from the time I helped a brother (and sister) in Jesus avoid a fine from the city by getting work done on a Sunday, since it had to be done on Monday. He did not want to do that, but I talked him into it, “pulling the ox out of the ditch.” During that time it was thought that using sunscreen might increase the chances of one getting the most dangerous skin cancer, melanoma. So I opted to get an alternative sunscreen. Looking at the label, I saw it had some of the same ingredients which some attributed to a higher risk for melanoma. So I ended up not taking any sunscreen at all. We did get the needed work done, by the way.

It was as bright a sunshine day as you’re going to see. And in no time I noticed my skin turning red. They had no sunscreen and while I didn’t want to take the time to run home to get what we had, I didn’t think of the store not that far from there where I could have gotten it. So I burned good that day. I am rather dark, was especially so as a boy. But years not much in the sunlight make the risk of melanoma higher when one does burn. And subsequent studies have put the kibosh on the idea that sunscreen does not help melanoma. Of course if one goes out in the sun more just because they use more sunscreen, they might actually increase their risk of getting that, but for normal use, including the recreational times such as on the beach, there is no doubt now that the use of sunscreen is one important practice for preventing melanoma.

As our Pastor Sharon has wisely said, there is no way we can get rid of such fear ourselves. I usually research my fear online to try to find some good answers which may help me put things in perspective. And I end up usually having to accept the fear and go on. And sometimes in that process, I may end up with something of a deeper acceptance of my mortality, which in itself can be a good thing.  And by and by the fear dissipates and is gone, until perhaps some opportune time the enemy hits me with it again.

In Hebrews we read:

 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.

We see that Jesus by his incarnation and death wants to free us from the fear of death by his own death. By Jesus’ death we no longer have to be slaves to the fear of death. We know that in the end, by and by, we all will die (unless Jesus returns before that time). Jesus by his death broke the claims death has on us, so that by faith we can live as those who share in his resurrection. The resurrection life, even now, and the resurrection of the body, to come.

When full of fear, I investigate, but then go on with life. The Lord always helps me. I wish I wouldn’t be hit with the same fear again, I wish I could overcome it to the point where such fear would be gone forever. While that might happen by and by, maybe the best hope is to grow in better handling it. To grow not only in spite of it, but even through it. Knowing that when all is said and done, we have nothing to fear in the end. Through Jesus our Lord.