DEATH ANXIETY, “THANATOPHOBIA”


There is one fear common to all of humankind, which is greater than all other fears. It is a fear which haunts people all of their lives…the fear of death. The Psalmist addresses this fear in Psalm 55:4,5 (New Living Translation), “My heart pounds in my chest. The terror of death assaults me. Fear and trembling overwhelm me, and I can’t stop shaking” Job describes death as “the king of terrors” (Job 18:14).

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Comedian Woody Allen said, “I'm not afraid of dying; I just don't want to be there when it happens.” When someone said to comedian Jack Benny, “You can’t take it with you,” he replied, “Then I’m not going.” (But he went!)


One thing is certain, I'm going to die! I don't know where or when, but I do know, unless Jesus returns to take me to be with Him at the rapture of the church, (John 14:1-3; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18) it will happen, I will die! One day I won't be here anymore, none of us will. Hebrews 9:27, “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.”


Many fear death because they have not really lived! And here’s a great truth, no one dies until all the lives he has touched are gone and all the influence he had is no more. Mark Twain said, “Let us so live that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry.”


Death happens to everyone! No matter how great the sinner or the saint; no matter how mighty the king or how weak the child, death is no respecter of persons. It doesn’t care who you are or who you think you are or how smart you are or how smart you think you are in your attempt to defeat and defy it, death doesn’t fear you at all.


Death is the unconquerable foe that can come regardless of age, race, gender, religion, or status. Even famous people die and many die young: Joan of Arc (19), Anne Frank (15), John Keats (26), Emily Bronte (30), Alexander the Great (33), Eva Peron (33), Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (35) Jimi Hendrix (27), Jim Morrison (28), James Dean (24), Marilyn Monroe (36), John Lennon (40), Elvis Presley (42), Martin Luther King, Jr. (39), Diana, Princess of Wales (36), John F. Kennedy, Jr. (38).


I love life! I love living! I love people! I love my wife! I love kids! I love eating good food (obviously)! I love nature! I love listening to good music (I prefer classical, but mainly I listen to Gospel music). I love church! I love cool spring days and warm summer nights! I love rain! I love nice things! I love fancy cars! I love to preach! I love good, clean movies and television (especially comedies and westerns)! In short I love life!


So the thought of death is not pleasant for me, and probably not for you. It seems the older we get the more we think about death. I’m 84 years old at the time of this writing, and believe me I know that life is short. Just yesterday I was young! I was a genius then! The painting of my future pictured no stop signs! I had an unconquerable spirit then! I was ready to charge hell with a squirt gun then! There were no obstacles that could possibly deter me from achieving greatness then! The world was mine then! Like the man who said, “I used to have great biceps, enviable abs, muscles out to here…but that’s all behind me (literally) now!”


Yesterday when I was young

The taste of life was sweet as rain upon my tongue.

I teased at life as if it were a foolish game,

The way the evening breeze may tease a candle flame.

The thousand dreams I dreamed, the splendid things I planned,

I always built alas on weak and shifting sand.

I lived by night and shunned the naked light of the day

And only now I see how the years ran away.

There are so many songs in me that won't be sung,

I feel the bitter taste of tears upon my tongue.

The time has come for me to pay for

Yesterday when I was young...

–Roy Clark

Where will you spend eternity, heaven or hell? Much of the world makes fun of this question. But seriously, do you know where you will go when you die? Polls show that around 60% of Americans believe in hell, but only 4% think there’s a good chance that they will go there! The Bible tells us that God sent His Son to take the punishment for our sins, so that we won’t spend eternity in hell separated from Him. “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). He willingly took our place, then he rose from the dead three days later.


I personally settled the “where will you spend eternity?” question when I accepted God's gift of eternal life.

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