Jan. 5 - Sinking Fear, Part 1 - Fear of Death
Updated: Jan 15
We all know the feeling that accompanies a brush with death, whether it be a car accident, a dreaded diagnosis or something equally terrifying. When that adrenaline rushes through your body, time slows down, you want to throw up, and your heart seems to stop. The pure fear we feel in those moments when our life flashes before our eyes is unlike anything else.
Some people live their lives in constant fear that death is right around the corner for them and those they love. They lay awake at night fearing what could befall them, dreaming up ways to avoid death and preserve their lives a little longer.
The disciple Peter understands this feeling all too well. He had sworn he would never deny Christ, but after Jesus was crucified and Peter was questioned, the situation changed. He found himself doing just as Jesus had predicted to avoid being dragged to a cross to meet the same fate his beloved teacher had.
Luke 22: 54-62 Then seizing him, they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest. Peter followed at a distance. And when some there had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and had sat down together, Peter sat down with them. A servant girl saw him seated there in the firelight. She looked closely at him and said, “This man was with him.”
But he denied it. “Woman, I don’t know him,” he said.
A little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.”
“Man, I am not!” Peter replied.
About an hour later another asserted, “Certainly this fellow was with him, for he is a Galilean.”
Peter replied, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.
Peter never dreamed he would deny his Lord, but with death in his face, his sense of self-preservation kicked in. He forgot his identity in Christ and the promises God had made. Peter took matters into his own hands. Now compare this situation to a conversation Jesus later had with Peter after His resurrection.
John 21:18-19 Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”
This time Peter chose to follow Jesus, despite knowing he would one day be crucified for doing so. When Peter had chosen self-preservation over Christ, he hadn’t been as mature in his faith. He was more focused on himself and his earthly life. But later when he was more spiritually mature, he chose to focus on Christ and he gave his life to grow the Kingdom of God.
How we react in these split-second, life-or-death situations is a reflection of what our value system is. Do we choose to embrace the fear of losing what we have here on earth, or do we hold tightly to the promises God has made us and step forward to our eternal lives? Make no mistake, we’re not saying to run blindly towards death. Be safe, but let go of that fear! Understand this life isn’t all there is.
John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
When you can’t sleep at night, let go of those worries, hold tight to this promise and pray to the God who loves you beyond all understanding.