On Death and Dying

We prepare for so many things throughout our lives. But the one thing we don’t prepare for is our death.

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Most of us are brought up to prepare for our life. We go to school, college, or trade school to prepare for getting a job that provides us with a living. When we’re married, we prepare to have a family. We raise our kids to prepare them to make a living. We prepare for vacations. We spend a great deal of time, energy, effort, and money preparing for things in our lifetime of, maybe 80 years. We hope to leave a legacy for our children and grandchildren.

We prepare for so many things throughout our lives. But the one thing we don’t prepare for is our death. Oh sure, we may prepare for our funeral or memorial. And we may prepare for giving our assets away. But many of us don’t prepare for life after death. It’s the one thing that every human being will experience but it’s the most ill-prepared for.

Atheists believe that death is the cessation of our physical life. When your body dies, you cease to exist. Atheists should be very at ease with death and dying. Why then do some prominent atheists struggle with death and dying. Some even fear it.

One of the more famous atheists was a 3rd century B.C. philosopher named Epicurus. Publicly, he didn’t believe in an afterlife at all. But privately, he struggled with the possibility that he might be wrong.  He wrote that he couldn’t be sure that there wasn’t life after death.

Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, was an atheist who didn’t publicly believe in an afterlife. But privately, he struggled with it all of his life. He feared death because he was afraid that there was an afterlife. He once said he thought about this every day of his life.

The French atheist philosopher, Voltaire, publicly did not believe in an afterlife. But on his deathbed, he was terrified as he called out, “I must die, abandoned by God and man. I shall go to hell. O Christ, O Jesus Christ”

The famous atheist philosopher, Bertrand Russell, on his deathbed, asked his friend, a Christian layman, to pray with him.

The famous atheist philosopher, Jean-Paul Sartre, died in 1980. His good friend, Pierre Victor, said that in the last month of his life, Sartre said that “I do not feel that I am a product of chance, a speck of dust in the universe, but someone who was expected, prepared, prefigured. In short, a being whom only a Creator could put here.”

The fearful thing about death is that we just don’t know what, if anything, exists beyond death. Even people who have experienced near-death-experiences have a 25% fearful, negative experience. This makes sense because we humans seem to have a built-in fearful sense of death.  

Albert Camus, the famous atheist French philosopher, author, and journalist publicly did not believe in an afterlife. He considered life to be absurd because it was void of meaning because there was no God to give it meaning. But he could never shake the fact that life had no meaning. One day he went to a church and struck up a friendship with a guest pastor. Camus now seemed to realize that meaning and purpose in life had to be bestowed by God. Thru this minister, Camus accepted Christ as his Savior. Four months later, he would die in a car crash. He was one of the most famous Frenchman alive but most of his followers would never know that he turned from the meaningless of atheism to a life of purpose found in Jesus Christ. Camus could not live with his belief that life was empty, meaningless, and absurd. He recognized that he had a deep longing for meaning and that led him to Christ.

According to atheism, life has no ultimate meaning. You live, you die and that’s it. You’re usually not remembered for more than a couple of generations. All your hard work seems for naught. If you’re famous, you might get a paragraph in a history book. Camus called this the “absurdity of life”. You’re just an insignificant person on one of a trillion planets circling trillions of stars in one of a trillion galaxies. You may add meaning to your life but in the end, you’ll die and be forgotten. Such is the atheistic view of life.     

But this doesn’t match up with reality. People have an innate desire to make life better. We want to make a difference in this world. We want our life to account for something. We want to be significant. We want to love and to be loved. This is where Christianity matches up with reality. We do all of these good, godly things because it is in our nature. It’s in our nature because we’re made in God’s image and God is all of these good things.

– our life does have meaning and purpose (1 Corinthians 10:31 & 2 Thessalonians 1:12)
– we are to testify to others about God (2 Corinthians 9:9 & Hebrews 6:10)
– eternity in heaven is promised to the faithful ( 1 John 5:11-13 & 2 Timothy 4:8)

Christians don’t need to fear death because we know that there’s a new perfect life after death. Hebrews 2:15 says that Jesus will “…free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.”

Dr. David Nelson, a 19th-century physician, sat at the bedside of many of his patients as they lay dying. Those without Christian faith would try to keep a brave face but he could see the terror in their eyes. And it was quite chilling. He saw many people die cowardly deaths. Dr. Nelson, who was not a Christian at this time, saw the tranquility in the faces of Christians as they lay dying.  He wrote, ”I beheld more celestial triumph than I had ever witnessed anywhere else. In their voice, there was a sweetness, and in their eye was a glory that I never would have believed if I had not been there to see it.” Dr. Nelson eventually came to believe in Jesus Christ because he saw the reality of Jesus in the lives of these dying Christians.

This is why Jesus gave us these words, ”I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in Me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in Me will never die…” (John 11:25-26). The Christian doesn’t have to fear death. It’s just a passageway to a wonderful life that will never end. Do you fear death? If you do, why not let Jesus take that fear away? Invite Him into your heart. Let heaven, not the fear of death, become your new focus of life.

 

 

This is an updated edition of a post originally published on bsssb-llc

Featured Image by Zach Lezniewicz on Unsplash

 

 

 

The views and opinions expressed by Kingdom Winds Collective Members, authors, and contributors are their own and do not represent the views of Kingdom Winds LLC.

About the Author

He earned a Michigan provisional teaching certificate and a Bachelor of Science degree with a major in physics and minors in astronomy, chemistry & mathematics. He has done graduate work in astro-physics, worked as a physics graduate teaching assistant and taught college astronomy. He has worked as a research & development laboratory manager at a plastics company, an automotive engineer, a chemist and a public & private high school teacher in math, physics & chemistry.He is currently retired from his own advanced materials tooling company. He has taught Christian adult education since the mid 1990’s at 2 churches. He was Director of Adult Education at one church and is now a teacher of Adult Education at his present church. Since becoming a Christ-follower in 1974, he has been an avid student of the Bible, with a special emphasis on apologetics (rationally defending the faith).He & his wife, Patti, have been married about 43 years and have 3 adult sons and 9 wonderful grandchildren.