“…perfect love drives out fear…” 1 John 4:18
Many years ago, I was in the hospital where my first child was born, near Charleston, SC. It was after working hours, nearing 7:30pm actually, when an urgent appeal for a minister came through the announcement system. I called the front desk and was given the room number. Upon entering the room, I met an elderly couple: the wife was sitting at the foot of the bed where her terminally ill husband lay. She explained to me that they were both believing Christians, however her husband was experiencing some anxiety over his soon pending death.
I then approached the husband, asking if his wife’s explanation was accurate, and he confirmed that he was anxious over the coming final experience of this life. I asked him if he was sure of his salvation, which he assured me he was confident Jesus lived in his heart and had forgiven him of his sins. I came to discover his anxiousness was rooted in two things: (1) Would he have a hard death? And (2) What if he didn’t meet up to God’s expectations?
When asked if he believed in the saving grace of God, he confidently responded, “Yes!” Then I explained that just as he experienced saving grace, God has given him living grace which assisted him in life’s trials through the years. I asserted if God had provided both saving and living grace, wouldn’t He also provide His dying grace, as well? I explained His dying grace would resolve his anxiety over his first issue of anxiety; God’s saving grace provides the antidote for his second anxiety. It was this very issue John was addressing and which our five simple words are used to dispel such anxiety and fear:
“This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” (v.’s 17-18)
I then proposed a Bible verse to encourage him through the moments to come: “I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13) I asked him to repeat it after me, then again, and again. Then I asked him to repeat, “I can live through Christ Who strengthens me.” Finally, I asked him to repeat, “I can die through Christ Who strengthens me.”
We prayed together, with his wife, and I left the room.
About two weeks later, I received a call from his wife who thanked me for responding to the request for a minister that evening at the hospital. She described how his anxiety was assuaged by God’s Word, allowing him to transition into eternity quite peacefully.
I’ll never forget the moments I spent with this dear couple: a wife concerned for her husband’s welfare; the Word God supplied in those moments; and the transparency of the man’s urgency. God provided and the sufficiency of His grace was demonstrated in a powerful way.
Allow God’s perfect love to drive away all fear and anxiety you may have concerning death. Live in the strength of Christ, Who’s power we can both live by and die in. Paul described it to the Christians in Rome this way:
“For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. 8 If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. 9 For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living.” (Romans 14:7-9)
Have a blessed week…