Afraid to die. That about sums it up. People are afraid to die. And it appears we Americans are especially afraid. This has been evidenced in many ways during this time of COVID-19, including the following:
1) Frantic hoarding of basic commodities
2) Persistent numbing of the self through various media technologies and vices
3) Flat-out denial of the reality of death
4) Overreactions in some of the precautionary efforts
Don’t misunderstand. I agree that disease can be serious, and we should take appropriate precautions. But we should also take care not to overreact and do more harm than good. When it comes to the topic of death and dying, the flight or fight instinct kicks into hyperdrive, and it becomes more difficult to remain balanced.
May I share some good news with you? You don’t have to be afraid to die. But before you can arrive at this place of fearlessness, you must first face the fact of your mortality. So, turn off Netflix, put away Facebook, and set aside that glass of wine long enough to let your mortality-reality set in:
I’m going to die, and you are going to die. Everyone is going to die. Coronavirus has not changed this reality in either direction. It’s as true now as it was the day you were born.
Why are we going to die? Well, it depends on who you ask? If you ask the secular humanist, he would say it’s just part of the physical reality of our evolutionary life-cycle. How sad! Is that really the best explanation of reality? People are just a pile of mobile flesh and bones?
This view falls short on many counts, not the least of which includes our complexity of emotions and deep sense of justice. For example, we don’t arrest, prosecute, and imprison lions and wolves for killing their prey; but we do carry out justice for humans murdering other humans. Why? Because of a deep sense of human value and complex emotions founded upon justice (right vs. wrong).
Enter the biblical view of death. Death is not simply the end to a biological life cycle. Death is the consequence of our disobedience to the Ultimate Holy Lawgiver. His name is Yahweh, the one and only God, the LORD of this universe that He created. The reason we feel a deep sense of justice is because God has set His laws on our hearts.
The bad news is you and I have broken God’s laws again and again and again. Our disobedience is called sin. And God doesn’t hide our mortality-reality from us. He tells us straight up, “The wages of sin is death” (Rom.6:23). That’s eternal death, a forever conscious punishment that we deserve in Hell. No earthly disease can hold a candle to the torments of this judgment. What good would it be to survive COVID-19 only to die of some other cause and land yourself in eternal judgment? This is the mortality-reality behind COVID-19.
The good news is you and I don’t have to go to Hell because God is not only a just God but a merciful and loving God too. God loved the world by giving “his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (Jn.3:16). This good news is called the gospel—that Jesus died for our sins and was raised to life on the third day, victorious over sin and death!
But this good news is still bad news if you turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to it. If you refuse to repent of your sin and put your trust in Jesus Christ alone, you will remain in your sins and death will swallow you up for all eternity. But if you repent of your sin and put your trust in Jesus Christ alone, you will be swallowed up by new spiritual life in Christ that begins now and lasts for all eternity. “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31).
Christians still fear the dying process and may fear death itself from time to time, but consistently and persistently our fear of death has been turned to faith in the One who conquered the grave.
In Christ Alone,
(*Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations come from the English Standard Version)