During our COVID-19 shutdown, Pastor Zekveld plans to provide a personal reflection each weekday.
Freed from Slavery to the Fear of Death
I remember a time in my life when I was scared to death of dying. How would I die? What would happen to me after I died? Where would I spend eternity?
What about you: are you afraid to die? I have good news for you: God has a way of escape.
The Bible says that when Jesus died on the cross, He destroyed the devil who holds the power of death and freed those who were held in slavery all their lives by the fear of death. (see Hebrews 2:14-15)
The fear of death makes us slaves. All people, even the most convinced atheists, know they will one day die and have to give an account to God their Creator for all their sins.
The fear of death makes us slaves. We can’t face death. We have to keep the thought of death away from us, so we try denial, distractions, drugs, defiance, indifference, or anything else that will keep it away. Fear of death is a prison that destroys our freedom to live authentically.
We work overtime to keep death away.
Then God comes along and gets in our way with a death scare. Cancer. Or the Coronavirus. We read death stats day after day after day. As of today, 23,647 deaths from the coronavirus and counting. Worldwide, 53,039 new cases today. How many of these will die? We don’t know but Death stalks the planet. It always does. Now a new death threat has been added and it’s in your face.
102 years ago the Spanish Flu stalked the globe. Our best estimate is around 50 million people were killed by this Grim Reaper. 50,000 Canadians died. 675,000 Americans. Somewhere between 12 million and 17 million deaths in India from the Spanish flu.
These figures are staggering. The Spanish flu preyed especially on 20-40 year-olds. What fright gripped the globe at that time. If you weren’t dead you were mourning.
In a way viruses are even more scary today. Viruses can get on a plane and cross the world in a day.
We can discuss causes of the disease. No one knows where the Spanish flu began, most likely not in Spain. We know the COVID-19 outbreak began in China. But, whatever human factors and errors are involved, ultimately, God is in control of all things and has a purpose for this. The Lord has established His throne in heaven, and His kingdom rules over all. (Psalm 103:19)
One of the things God is doing with it is pushing the reality of death to the front of our consciousness. Life is terminal and we must realize it. We must deal with it. God in His great mercy is sounding the alarm so that we face death squarely, that we look for a way of escape, and find freedom from the fear of death.
But what is the way of escape? The way of escape is not escapism – hiding in refuges made of lies, like drugs, denial, distractions, defiance. The only real way of escape is Jesus Christ.
God sent His Son, Jesus, to earth and made Him a real human being just like us. Jesus became man so that He could die. Jesus stepped into our death and eternal suffering. This is God’s great gift of love: Jesus took on Himself our suffering and death to give His life to those who are headed for death.
Everyone who believes in Jesus is truly free from death. Through faith in Jesus, your death sentence was put on Him, and His life is given to you instead. Jesus said, I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in Me will live even though he dies. Whoever lives and believes in Me will never die. (John 11:25-26)
What freedom we have in Jesus:
First, you are set free from death. Your soul will go to Jesus immediately when you die, and one day He will raise your decomposed body too – immortal and forever strong.
Second, you are set free from the fear of death. You are free to face it, accept it, and even mourn it as the last enemy that has been defeated and destroyed by Christ Jesus for you.
Third, you are set free from slavery to the fear of death. You can leave your prison of denial or defiance. You can live in peace and hope. You can face the issues of life authentically, without pretending, and in hope, without despairing.
Jesus makes you safe. He makes life safe. He makes disaster and sickness safe. He makes death safe for you. Without Him, death is forever. But if you belong to Him, life is forever.