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Why do we fear death?

cemetery, grave, cross

Just last week there was a futurist promising that we could all live forever if we could just make it to 2050. Then Kobe Bryant and eight other very affluent people with very bright futures died in a helicopter crash and the world observed Holocaust Memorial Day and the coronavirus continued to claim lives and life seemed exceedingly fragile. 

Death cometh. We all know it and yet it still shocks us to hear of it. Why is that? Have we honestly come to believe the original lie that “we shall not die?”

When was the last time to you attended a funeral?  What was said? What was sung? What was left unsaid? Now yourself: when was the last time a friend or coworker or neighbor died and there was nothing — no event, no funeral, no memorial service?  What happened? Do you wonder? I do.

A few months ago my sister and I stood with our mother at my father’s grave. He died when I was 15. My mom was a young widow then. That year is mostly a haze to me. But on a recent very cold morning we stood there again in the cemetery in Brook, Indiana. We were there to say commend the body of my Aunt Marilyn to the ground. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. As the three of we Fowler women stood tightly together, huddled against the cold wind, my mom said, “the next time you girls will be here, it will be to bury me.” Death cometh.

Are you having these critical conversations with those you love best in the world? And not just the conversation about what songs should be sung or scriptures read but the conversations about life — after death? Why? Because death cometh.

Indeed, as Thomas Babington Macaulay wrote in Lays of Ancient Rome “Then out spake brave Horatius, The Captain of the Gate: To every man upon this earth Death cometh soon or late.”

As I listened to the myriad reactions and responses to the death of Kobe Bryant a few things stand out:

  1. When officials from the NTSB and FAA were briefing reporters they repeated there were “nine souls on board” the Swarovski helicopter. Nine souls. That’s a wide open door for getting God back into the conversation.
  2. Los Angeles Times Sports writer Bill Plaschke wrote: Kobe Bryant is gone, and those are the hardest words I’ve ever had to write for this newspaper, and I still don’t believe them as I’m writing them. I’m still crying, and go ahead, let it out. Don’t be embarrassed, cry with me, weep and wail and shout into the streets, fill a suddenly empty Los Angeles with your pain.

A suddenly emptiness, that is exactly what death leaves in its dark wake. And it is an emptiness which seeks to be filled, but with what? Again, Christian, there stands a wide open door of opportunity to walk with others through the valley of the shadow of death. They fear and feel the evil and they know not the Good Shepherd. But you do. As Christians, we lean into the darkness and the fear and the void and the questions. We help people see the nearness of eternity as they mourn the brevity of life.

Why? Because death cometh — but there is One who conquered its power and paid its penalty. And those who are in Him need not fear.


This piece was originally published at The Reconnect with Carmen LaBerge.

Carmen LaBerge is host of the "Connecting Faith with Carmen LaBerge" radio program, author of Speak the Truth: How to Bring God Back Into Every Conversation and Executive Director of the Common Ground Christian Network

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