It is a natural human feeling to fear the end of one's life. The thought of death brings to mind other thoughts of pain, sadness, and separation from loved ones. What does the Bible share to help overcome the fear of death?
First and foremost, the greatest antidote to the fear of death is to be assured of heaven when this life is over. To enjoy eternity in heaven, you must receive Jesus Christ by faith (Ephesians 2:8-9; John 3:16). He is the only way (John 14:6).
Second, those who have received Christ by faith are to grow in Him. As we grow, we gain confidence in our salvation. First John 5:13 says, "I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life." Learning God's Word strengthens our faith and creates a joy in us as we look forward to eternity with our Lord. In Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress, death is pictured as a "dreadful river that surrounds Mount Zion." However, the river is "deeper or shallower depending on the faith of the one traversing it."
Third, we can study what the Bible teaches about heaven. When we learn about the joys that await us in eternity, we long to be with Jesus and the believers who have gone before us. We will have less fear of death.
Fourth, we can study what the Bible says about the death of a believer. Because of Jesus, death has been defeated; it has lost its "sting" (1 Corinthians 15:55). Physical death, for the believer, is attended by angels (Luke 16:22) and is temporary because of the promised resurrection; in fact, death is sometimes referred to as "sleep" in the New Testament (John 11:11, 13; 1 Corinthians 11:30). To be "away from the body" is to be "at home with the Lord" (2 Corinthians 5:8). When we know these truths, we have less fear of death.
Fifth, we are called to live a life without regrets. Our fear of death is often associated with the disappointment of falling short of personal goals. We cannot change the past, but we can live today with full devotion to the Lord. Paul wrote, "Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:13-14). Living without regrets includes living a holy life in Christ, making disciples (Matthew 28:18-20), and using our gifts and resources to make an eternal impact. Jesus taught, "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal" (Matthew 6:19-20).
There are some other things that can help alleviate the fear of death. Writing up a legal will, making funeral arrangements, and buying life insurance for family members are important. Planning ahead of time can lessen fear.
Physically, we can also do our part to take care of our bodies. Healthy diet, exercise, and rest, along with avoiding harmful activities such as smoking can help us live life to its fullest.
Ultimately, the Lord is the one who can remove our fears, including the fear of death. Those who know Him, are growing in Him, and living for Him can anticipate the afterlife with great joy, knowing they will be with Him forever (1 Peter 1:8-9).
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