Breaking Free From The Fear Of Death

Only Jesus Christ has an answer for death.

Breaking Free From The Fear Of Death

April 1, 2021

“I actually think about heaven a lot.”

After twenty-eight years of marriage, I thought I knew everything about my husband. But this comment, made during a recent road trip, took me by surprise.

I’m almost embarrassed to admit this, but heaven rarely graces my thoughts. I tend to focus on the here-and-now. Since heaven will be my home after I die, I place it in the distant future. Out of sight, out of mind.  

Most of us avoid thinking about our own mortality. A group of psychologists, Jeff Greenberg, Sheldon Solomon, and Tom Pyszczynski, claim such avoidance is both normal and necessary. 

According to their Terror Management Theory, constant reminders of our mortality would create crippling anxiety. To manage this stress, we push away thoughts of death, or deny it will happen to us. 

This works until death intersects our lives with:

  • A loss of a loved one
  • A near-death experience
  • A world-wide pandemic

Without a doubt, I have thought about heaven more in the last twelve months than in my whole Christian life. Covid-19 forces me to consistently face my mortality. I don’t think I’m alone in this.

Since the pandemic began, we’ve publicly tracked the number of Covid deaths. Many of us have lost loved ones to the virus. Others have narrowly escaped death after contracting the illness.

To help us cope with this sudden awareness, we’ve employed some of the strategies identified in the Terror Management Theory:

  • We’ve attempted to feel safe through social distancing and wearing masks. 
  • We’ve denied the threat by listening to conspiracy theories or believing in our own ability to fight the virus. 
  • We’ve distracted ourselves through binge watching TV, substance abuse or retail therapy. 

Please understand: I’m not denying the wisdom of taking safety measures. Nor am I passing judgement on any of these means to cope with this pandemic. But all of these coping strategies only treat the symptoms. We need a cure for the actual cause of our anxiety: death.

Only Jesus Christ has an answer for death. The empty tomb sets Him apart from every other religious leader. As the Apostle Paul notes, the resurrected Christ is the most important tenet of the Christian faith:


For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, (I Corinthians 15:3-4 NIV)

In his letter to Timothy, Paul reminds us of all the blessings we receive because of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross:

He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. (2 Timothy 1:9-10 NIV)

I frequently remember the forgiveness I find at the foot of the cross. And I rest secure in the promise of eternal life. But because I don’t often think of death, I forget the power Jesus yielded over it. He destroyed death. 

The author of Hebrews explains how:

Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. (Hebrews 2:14-15 NIV)

I fear death because I forget Satan no longer has power over it. Jesus broke that power forever when He rose on the third day. 

This Sunday we celebrate His resurrection. It reminds us of our hope of eternal life. But it also answers our fear of death. Death couldn’t hold Him. And it won’t hold us either.

Wherever the road takes us this Easter, I pray we break free from the fear of death as we continue to faithfully follow the One who left the tomb empty.

Breaking Free From The Fear Of Death

April 1, 2021

Only Jesus Christ has an answer for death.

“I actually think about heaven a lot.”

After twenty-eight years of marriage, I thought I knew everything about my husband. But this comment, made during a recent road trip, took me by surprise.

I’m almost embarrassed to admit this, but heaven rarely graces my thoughts. I tend to focus on the here-and-now. Since heaven will be my home after I die, I place it in the distant future. Out of sight, out of mind.  

Most of us avoid thinking about our own mortality. A group of psychologists, Jeff Greenberg, Sheldon Solomon, and Tom Pyszczynski, claim such avoidance is both normal and necessary. 

According to their Terror Management Theory, constant reminders of our mortality would create crippling anxiety. To manage this stress, we push away thoughts of death, or deny it will happen to us. 

This works until death intersects our lives with:

  • A loss of a loved one
  • A near-death experience
  • A world-wide pandemic

Without a doubt, I have thought about heaven more in the last twelve months than in my whole Christian life. Covid-19 forces me to consistently face my mortality. I don’t think I’m alone in this.

Since the pandemic began, we’ve publicly tracked the number of Covid deaths. Many of us have lost loved ones to the virus. Others have narrowly escaped death after contracting the illness.

To help us cope with this sudden awareness, we’ve employed some of the strategies identified in the Terror Management Theory:

  • We’ve attempted to feel safe through social distancing and wearing masks. 
  • We’ve denied the threat by listening to conspiracy theories or believing in our own ability to fight the virus. 
  • We’ve distracted ourselves through binge watching TV, substance abuse or retail therapy. 

Please understand: I’m not denying the wisdom of taking safety measures. Nor am I passing judgement on any of these means to cope with this pandemic. But all of these coping strategies only treat the symptoms. We need a cure for the actual cause of our anxiety: death.

Only Jesus Christ has an answer for death. The empty tomb sets Him apart from every other religious leader. As the Apostle Paul notes, the resurrected Christ is the most important tenet of the Christian faith:


For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, (I Corinthians 15:3-4 NIV)

In his letter to Timothy, Paul reminds us of all the blessings we receive because of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross:

He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. (2 Timothy 1:9-10 NIV)

I frequently remember the forgiveness I find at the foot of the cross. And I rest secure in the promise of eternal life. But because I don’t often think of death, I forget the power Jesus yielded over it. He destroyed death. 

The author of Hebrews explains how:

Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. (Hebrews 2:14-15 NIV)

I fear death because I forget Satan no longer has power over it. Jesus broke that power forever when He rose on the third day. 

This Sunday we celebrate His resurrection. It reminds us of our hope of eternal life. But it also answers our fear of death. Death couldn’t hold Him. And it won’t hold us either.

Wherever the road takes us this Easter, I pray we break free from the fear of death as we continue to faithfully follow the One who left the tomb empty.

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4 Comments

  1. Margaret Kemp on April 5, 2021 at 3:14 PM

    Shirley, you are right. We humans don’t like to admit we are not in control, so we have a tendency to listen to conspiracy theories or to put our faith in “science.” But, praise God Jesus broke the power of death!

    • Shirley Desmond Jackson on April 7, 2021 at 10:25 PM

      Amen~ thankfully we can submit ourselves to the One who is sovereign over everything! Thank you for sharing, Margaret. 💕

  2. Noël on April 21, 2021 at 12:56 AM

    Amen Shirley!! The best is to come you are right. We are getting closer to God day after day. God is in control we aren’t… ” il tient le monde dans ses mains” as the song goesThank you for sharing your thoughts…

    • Shirley Desmond Jackson on April 22, 2021 at 5:10 PM

      Thank you Noël! So true- He does hold the world in His hands. 💕

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