Facing Death: How Can I Cope?
Elder Jeff Winfrey, Pastor
Dawson Springs Primitive Baptist Church
101 East Walnut Street
Dawson Springs, KY 42408
A Certainty of the Beyond
How can our fears about death be calmed? An understanding of the truth of a life beyond this world and a knowledge of the certain success of our Savior are two things that can quench our fears.
This world is not all there is. There is a world awaiting God’s children. It is beyond any imagination to comprehend the beauty and the glory of the eternity that lies ahead. Jesus called it ‘paradise’ when He talked to the thief. We are told that there are no sorrows, no tears, no pains, no crying and no death in that place that awaits us. We are told that we will be satisfied there. We are told that we will be in the likeness of Christ. What can exceed being in the likeness of Christ! Lord haste the day!
But how can we be sure that it is ready for us? My friend, it is ready for us by the preparations of Jesus Christ. He said He was going to prepare a place for us and come again and receive us to Himself that we might be where He is. He is the God who cannot lie and He will not let us down.
And how can we be sure that we will be ready for it? Jesus is our assurance of our salvation. “ Thou shall call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from there sins.” Now that is a strong statement of certain assurance. And Jesus can and does guarantee the successful salvation of His children. For our salvation is not by our works; it is by His grace. Thankfully, from start to finish salvation is of the Lord. He paid for it on the cross. He applies it at the new birth. He assures it in the end. To Him be all the praise! To Him be all the glory!
The Fear of Death
Oh, just the thought of death is so overwhelming. The slightest consideration of death brings with it so many fearful imaginations. And we oftentimes respond to these fears by attempting to erase from our thinking any ideas concerning death. But our refusal to think on the issue is only temporary. For sooner than we may imagine, we are caught in the midst of the reality of death’s terror. And as we are compelled to actually face the monster, we again come to the awareness that staring into the face of the actual experience of death is more dreadful than words can describe.
There are two ways that we find ourselves facing death. As we grow older and our bodies weaken, we begin to face the looming reality of our own death. And in spite of attempts to put thoughts of death out of our mind, the closer we get to death the more we seem to think about it. As our lives pass by, we are inevitably reminded of the shortness of our days upon this earth and the reality of the death that awaits.
But perhaps worse than the impending death of our own bodies is being still alive at the death of a loved one. To experience this fearful event is even enough to make us yearn for our own death. What is felt at the loss of a dear loved one goes beyond hurt, beyond pain. It treads on the verge of the unbearable.
Is there any comfort as we face the horrible, ever-lurking, monstrous reality of death? Is there any relief for our suffering? Where can we turn to find help? Where can we go to find rest for our troubled souls?
Look To God
Dear child of God, this world holds no real answers to our questions and it has no real comfort for our fears. For instead of this world having our solution, the truth is that this world is our problem. This is a world of sin, sickness, tragedy, heartache and eventual death. Some may advise you to look here or there in this world for help, but our only real solution to the problem of death lies in something beyond this world. And if we find any true comfort, we must understand the truth of things that pertain to a reality that is beyond the reality of this present world.
And looking in the truth of God’s word, we find these words in Romans 6:23. “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” This statement surely sums up two aspects of truth concerning death and life.
First there is the discouraging teaching that we deserve the death we receive. It is our due payment, even our just wage, for our sinful works. We deserve death. We earn death. And we receive death. There surely is no comfort in this aspect of truth. But look at the flip side of the verse. By our works comes death, but by God’s amazing grace we have eternal life. Through the death of Jesus Christ, God gives us a gift. By Jesus’ death, we have life.
Now that is good news. The world may treat our symptoms, but God has the cure for the problem. The world may have a salve for the moment, but God has an eternal cure. Look to God. He is your hope. Think on Christ. He is your Savior.
The truths in God’s word provide many comforting things concerning our outlook on death and dying. God’s word says that through death Jesus destroyed him that had the power of death, and delivered them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. Yes, Jesus has destroyed death. And furthermore, the understanding that Jesus has destroyed death delivers us from the lifetime of bondage that accompanies the fear of death.
But beyond the peace in understanding that Jesus has conquered death, there is a direct comfort and rest that can come from God to His children in the midst of their sadness. God is the “Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort.” God has said, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” Jesus said, “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.” Jesus said, “Come unto me and I will give rest.” These are only a few of God’s many promises of help. Yes, we have eternal life beyond this world, but we have in this world “a very present help in trouble.”
But oftentimes we do not find this present help because we do not ask. Those who in their exalted view of self try to tough it out by their own strength will find little real comfort. But those who fall humbly before their merciful God and acknowledge their weaknesses will find a strength and a comfort that only He can give. “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: casting all your care upon him; for he cares for you.” Oh, child of the Father, fall before your God and He will give you rest.
In addition to the comfort available in the knowledge of eternal life through a great Savior, and in addition to the comfort that can only come directly from our merciful God, there is another source of comfort available to the troubled child of God.
There is much help available through other children of God that surround you in this world. Though the world’s aid is of limited value, the help available through one equipped by God is of immeasurable value. The first step in being equipped to help another is to understand the truths from God’s word. And secondly, the Bible tells us that we who have been comforted by the God of all comfort are then enabled to give comfort to others. Thirdly, the Bible proclaims that God gives some in the church special gifts for helping and encouraging others. We all need each other. We all need the strength that can come from others. We all need a church. We all need a pastor. Christ’s church is not just another world system. A true church is built and led by Christ. The church is the Christ established means to help His children in this world.
As we need to acknowledge our weaknesses before our God, sometimes we need to acknowledge our weaknesses before our brothers and sisters in Christ. We need to open up to one another and admit that we are struggling. We need to look to others for strength and encouragements.
There is hope in God. There is help from God and from His church. Soon you will forever be with your God. But until then, may He bless you to find peace.