Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Let The Lower Lights Be Burning"1 (Lyrics)
Psalm 18:4-5 – The pangs of death surrounded me, and the floods of ungodliness made me afraid. The sorrows of Sheol surrounded me; the snares of death confronted me. (NKJV)
The thought of experiencing it unnerved me — even though I claimed to be prepared.
While a pre-teen, the fear of dying overcame me. As a nine-year-old, I had chosen to follow Jesus. I knew that He had a place in heaven for me, but I feared what I had to experience to get there: death.
A few years later, relatives began dying. First, my paternal grandfather's unhealthy living habits finally caught up with him. A couple of years later, both of my great-grandparents followed him. Soon after, the remainder of my grandparents died. Presently, I have lost one parent, and my wife and I know that our remaining parents have fewer days to live.
In today's passage, old age wasn't why David feared death — he wasn't old. A jealous king was on his trail, and he was running for his life, hiding in caves and in the wilderness. Death seemed near at all times, but God preserved his life. King Saul didn't kill him — but was killed himself. David was made the next ruler.
Only a few welcome the thought of death. Regardless of how tough circumstances might be or how intense the pain of disease or other bodily ailments can become, most don't wish for death. Rather, they pray for healing or for God to soothe the debilitating situation. But the healing of diseases and the removing of stressful situations won't stop death. Barring the return of Jesus Christ, everyone will experience it.
Living peacefully, while at the same time knowing that the pangs of death are just around the corner, is possible. Doing what I did as a nine-year-old is the first step in facing death's pangs: asking Jesus to forgive my sins and committing myself to be His follower. This act removes the condemnation that I'm under and takes care of the sins that I'm responsible for — all of which keep me out of heaven.
Knowing that I'll immediately enter heaven upon my death is also comforting. I won't have to lie unconsciously in the ground until Christ returns. The apostle Paul wrote that to be absent from the body is to be at home with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8). Jesus told the thief on the cross, who begged for His forgiveness, "Today you will be with Me in Paradise." (Luke 23:43 NKJV)
When we make things right between us and God, we no longer have to fear the pangs of death.
Prayer: Father, thank You for taking away the fear of death when we trust in You as our God. Amen.