It seems like such a simple question: if we’re all so sure Heaven exists, what possible reason would we have to be afraid of dying?
The other day while surfing the web and reading about a family whose 5-year-old daughter has decided she would rather stay home (even if it means dying) than go to the hospital for a painful treatment for the side effects of an incurable disease.
One of the commenters to that story asked the kind of simple question that can sometimes punch you right in the gut because it’s so basic but so hard to answer.
The question was this: “If Christians believe in heaven, why are they so afraid of dying?”
The implication of the question — whether intentional or not — is that Christians must not believe in the concept of this “better place” waiting for them or else they’d be eager to get there.
Jesus Christ gave us the following assurance in John 14:2-3:
“There are many homes up there where my Father lives, and I am going to prepare them for your coming. When everything is ready, then I will come and get you, so that you can always be with me where I am.”
If we put our faith in Christ, that assurance alone, regardless of what Heaven looks like, should be more than sufficient reason for us all to feel confident that we do indeed have a good, safe place to go beyond this life.
I don’t know that Christians who are, to some degree, afraid of death are in any way doubting the existence of Heaven or God’s provisions for us there.
But Heaven represents the unknown. The Bible describes some qualities of heaven, but it is largely a mystery and likely by design. Consider, for example, I Corinthians 2:9, which reminds us that “no eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him.”
Our lives here are known. We don’t know what will happen tomorrow, or even necessarily the next few minutes, but we understand life to the extent that we are living it. Heaven, by comparison, is uncharted territory.
Some of us are uncomfortable with change, and death is the ultimate change for any mere mortal, isn’t it?
Have you ever accepted a new job in a new place? You have confidence that your new workplace will be better than your last one, your new home will be better than your current one, and your future will be brighter than your present. (Most of us, when we move somewhere else, do so for a better circumstance, right?) Even when we are certain we are moving to a better place in this world, “moving” is still one of the top five most stressful life events, according to HealthStatus.com:
It may be a happy occasion, but it is still a disruption of your routine. And any disruption of your routine causes stress.
Even when we don’t have to do the packing and worry about what we will and won’t be taking with us, moving is stressful. So it shouldn’t be surprising that moving to Heaven wouldn’t be stressful as well.
That’s not a sign of a lack of faith of God’s provision or doubt that Heaven exists.
I think it’s basic human nature.