Thursday, September 23, 2021

You Are Gonna Die. So am I.

You are gonna die.

So am I.

One out of one of us do, but for some crazy reason, we expect not to.  We go to funerals and mourn the dearly departed, but we rarely sit through these somber services thinking we might be next. And yet, this is the reality: it could be you, me, or the person beside us who is next to be eulogized.

For the past several months, death has been a frequent visitor to my social media newsfeed. Some of these deaths have been people with whom I am acquainted and loved. One of them was even a beloved family member.

The increasing prevalence of these reminders almost mandates a dirge for the opening theme of the daily news because honestly, it seems the more dreadful the day's headlines, the higher the reported viewership. One local broadcaster said recently, "if it bleeds, it leads," referring to the stories that make it to the top of the hour. Still, viewers tune in for daily doses of depressing drama in record numbers.

Why? Why this preoccupation with the macabre and morbid? I can only speculate, but I think it has something to do with an attempt to face our greatest fear which is our own demise. Death, after all, is our last enemy. It says so in the Bible, right? 

I am fascinated with not only the current cultural fixation on death, but also on the many demonstrations of fear that seem rooted in sudden awareness that we humans don't possess immortality. 

Covid has cured that, though. People suddenly seem to realize that they could die and they are terrified. I mean literally scared to death (almost) of death. Tragically, some are so afraid they have isolated themselves into depression and scrubbed their skin into shredded flesh.  No longer able to breathe freely in the company of other humans for fear that someone might infect them or that they might infect someone, they no longer enjoy concerts, crowds, or companionship. Fear has gripped them and the fear is this: they might die, or someone they love might die.

If C. S. Lewis was still writing, I think he might add a chapter to The Screwtape Letters because this has to be one of the devil's all time most skillful attacks. I am surely no Lewis, but I can almost hear the dialog in my head-- 

You can make him do anything you wish when he is terrified of the virus. 

He will stop going to the market and order his groceries online. He will voraciously read every article that heralds the viral deadliness growing more fearful and hopeless as he reads. He will stop meeting his friends for dinner and tell his grandchildren not to visit. He will no longer kiss his wife goodnight for fear that she might sicken him, or vice versa. He will watch the daily news for reports on the numbers of those who've succumbed to disease and then cower in terror thinking he could be next. He will ignore reports of recovery rates and become fixated only on the worst case outcomes. He will scold and correct all who do not share his own understanding of the dire straits of society. He will verbally attack former friends and colleagues who do not believe or behave exactly as he does. In his sleep, he will dream of disease. In his waking hours, he will speak of disease. And as he so predictably slips into a state of fear induced mania and paranoia, he will have lost all ability to reason or to be reasoned with, and best of all, he won't fear God, only his own untimely death.

He will be exactly where you want him to be then, nephew. Incapable of making wise or discerning judgments and perfectly suited for a long life of hell on earth. Just the preparation that is needed for his future eternal state. This, my dear boy, is brilliant!

Your affectionate uncle,


When young children witness a grown woman in a state of absolute panic-induced hysteria on an elevator because she is breathing the same air as they are, you know we are living in a fear filled world. 

When a stranger verbally assaults someone who is not wearing a mask in a very large public place where no mask mandate exists and where it is more than possible to maintain great social distance, you know we are living in a fear filled world. 

When someone expects you to do exactly what they think is right regardless of their lack of knowledge of your situation, health, or beliefs and then berates you for not complying or agreeing or capitulating, you know we are living in a fear filled world.

The saddest thing about all of this is not that the virus itself exists, but that fear of the virus has turned us into people who have lost the ability (or willingness) to behave rationally, maturely, and properly in far too many instances. 

So, what is the solution? There's only one. It is found in the verse I mentioned earlier and actually in a broader sense it is found in the truth of the whole of scripture. 1 Corinthians 15:26 tells us that "the last enemy to be destroyed is death." And there is one who destroyed its sting and puts to rest all the fears that cripple and blind and stifle and grip. Jesus Christ conquered death-- and for those who have surrendered their earthly, mortal life to His Lordship, we can face whatever comes tomorrow, be it corona virus, heart disease, cancer, or tragedy, without the fear that suffocates and renders hopeless those who do not have The LORD's "peace that passes understanding."

As I write, I am praying for the woman on the elevator, the man in the store, and the person who so hostilely responds on social media (and all those who are in the clutches of the devil's big scary scheme) to be delivered from the terror of death by the mercy of Christ. The Scripture says:
When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: "Death is swallowed up in victory." "O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?" The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our LORD Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers be steadfast, immovable..." I Corinthians 15: 54-58

We will die. You will. I will. But by God's amazing grace, may we NOT die while we are still alive. Fear does that to a person-- it creates living dead people. In Christ, we are free to live fearlessly-- even the fear of death. 

soli Deo gloria~


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