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Whatever we’re afraid of, whatever we worry about, even death—the worst thing we think can happen, will not end our relationship with God.

 

The reality is that none of us will get out of this world alive. The ultimate statistic? One out of every one born will die. But we believe that our loving Heavenly Father will give us the grace we need to cross the Jordan, when our time comes—like Corrie ten Boom’s father gave her a ticket just before she boarded the train.  

 

Beyond death is eternal life. The most famous verse in the Bible reminds us of that. Sometimes at funerals I’ve challenged people to “do something radical—believe that Jesus Christ tells the truth!” Since He does, “The future is as bright as the promises of God.”

 

The Good Shepherd gave His life for us, defeating death. Because Jesus did this for us, we do not “live our lives as slaves to the fear of dying” (Hebrews 2:14-15). As Eugene Peterson put it in The Message, we don’t have to be “scared to death of death.”

 

In a silent movie, Charlie Chaplin portrayed a prisoner in chains aboard a ship that was wrecked and began to fall apart. Clinging to debris, he made it to shore. Desperately wanting to be free of his chains, he tried humor, denial, and philosophizing—but every time he tried to walk, he went the length of his fetters then fell down. The last scene shows him looking heavenward—finally realizing if he’s ever to be rid of his chains, he must have outside help.

 

Looking up is our only hope too. We cannot laugh, deny, or think our way out of the fear of dying—only Jesus can help us. His death has removed the sting of death, overturned the grave’s despair, and brought us eternal victory (1 Corinthians 15:55-57).   

 

Depending on our Shepherd, we find a better way to face forward than “perhaps” or “maybe.” God teaches us faith language, trust vocabulary. Then we can say with confidence “I will (not might) live in the house of the Lord forever.”  

 

We joyfully anticipate what God is about to do. Here’s what we can expect—death of death, burial of badness, resurrection to resplendence.

 

From where we sit, we may feel there’s plenty to be scared of. From where God sits, it has already been taken care of. God sees the bright side of gloomy clouds; one day we will see it too.

     

The other side of death is life. The other side of despair is solace. The other side of sin’s dirge is redemption’s dance. The other side of earth’s sad discord is the joyful symphony of paradise. The other side of fear is blessed relief.

 

Thunderstorms obscure stars. Clouds camouflage blue sky. Dark valleys threaten peace of mind. But we can take heart—Jesus walks beside us through shadows to His house. Nothing will ever terrorize the place our Savior is preparing for us on the other side of fear.

 

 

Johnny R. Almond

Pastor, Hull’s Memorial Baptist Church

Author, Gentle Whispers from Eternity

 

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