Death is a subject most avoided in our culture. We are afraid to talk about it. We do our best to stay busy and not think about it. We spend most of our money trying to avoid it. Yet, the death rate in America is still 100%. Think about it. No one leaves this world without passing through the tunnel of death.
In more recent years, we have started to talk about it. But we frame our conversations as life after life. So, even our discussions about death are really about after-death, but not death itself.
Fear; I suppose. Fear of the unknown. No one knows for certain what happens when we cross to the other side of life. We can speculate; make assumptions, foster hope. But we cannot truly know until we get there.
I think it’s a little like marriage. We can talk to people and get advice. We can develop skills and find resources to better prepare us. Yet, as someone who stands 25 years on the other side of “I do”, it is nothing how I had imagined.
I have a friend who experienced one of those near-death moments you read about from time to time. He was clinically dead, and his soul encountered Jesus in the realm between heaven and earth. It changed him.
He is not the same person who died. And his life now bears the marks of Christ. I suppose we truly cannot encounter Christ without being changed. We either become more like Him or we are hardened on the inside.
But my friend knows what happens. Sort of. He knows what he encountered and his fear of death is gone. He is confident that he will be embraced by God’s love when that day arrives.
You and I and others who have not had such an experience play the trust game. We have to have faith. We have to trust in the unseen, unknown, and untested. We have to trust the testimonies of people like my friend. We have to trust the stories of men and women who encountered a Man named Jesus 2000 years ago.
The author of the Book of Hebrews wrote that faith is being certain of what we do not see. Hmm.
I suspect we have different definitions of certainty.
Certainty is the “quality of being reliably true”. Reliably true suggests it is something we have experienced in the past and we can trust that it will happen again in the future; like the sun shining tomorrow. I am certain the sun will shine tomorrow because I have experienced the sun each day for the 46 years I have been alive.
So perhaps we could modify that statement for our generation by saying “faith is being reasonably certain of what we do not see”. That’s works for me. I can be reasonably certain of life after death. I can be reasonably certain because I can reason that my friend’s experience is available to more persons than him alone. I can be reasonably certain because people have seen a clear transformation in him after this encounter. We can be reasonably certain because of so many who’s lives have been radically changed when they encountered God. And this reasonable certainty eases my fear.
If fear of death is actually fear of the unknown, then can we rely on reasonable certainty to ease that fear? Could you trust that people for generations have been radically changed by something greater than themselves? And could you trust this One who has changed them to care for you as well? If you and I are still waiting for absolute certainty, then we may never experience freedom from fear of death. But if we can be reasonably certain, then we might move from fear of death into the joy of life.
So, today, consider that fear is keeping you asleep in your recliner. Wake up to the joy of life that is found in reasonable certainty!