There was a time in my life when I believed that good Christians aren’t afraid of dying.
It was only when I was faced with my own death — the reality that the cancer might win — that I realized that’s not always true.
Even if you know your soul is going to be with the Lord, it can be fearful to think of the people you will be leaving behind … and how their lives will go on without you.
Accepting that my death might actually be God’s will was one of the greatest challenges of my life. Once again, I overcame it only by relying on His strength and the support of many loving, godly friends.
Ed Dobson was one of those friends. As I wrote this passage for my book, Why? Answers to Weather the Storms of Life, I became grateful all over again for his faithful friendship and wise counsel.
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“Up until this point I have been doing well,” I said. “Spiritually and emotionally, I have been strong. But I’m beginning to have fears, and I cannot control my emotions — I’m crying all the time.
“I’m afraid of dying,” I said. “Is that a satanic attack?”
Ed Dobson, my close friend and counselor, looked at me and said, “No, Vernon, you have a life-threatening and potentially terminal disease. That is reality!”
I was in the middle of one of the harder times during my battle with cancer. I experienced a great fear of dying — not so much because I wasn’t prepared to die, but because I just loved life so much. I wanted to cling to it — I wasn’t ready to let go. To be honest, I was terrified of letting go.
The fear was debilitating, crippling. Essayist H.P. Lovecraft said, “The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.”
If you face the unknown today in your family, your career, your future because of a seemingly insurmountable challenge, the advice my friend gave to me that day can apply to your life, too.
“Vernon,” Ed said, “you have one of three alternatives, as I see it. First, you can get angry with God, quit, turn your back on God, and turn your back on Christianity.”
I knew immediately that wasn’t an alternative I wanted to pursue.
“The second option is that you can run from reality,” he said.
“You can run from the reality that it is appointed unto man once to die. You can hide from that responsibility and only fool yourself.”
I knew that neither of those two alternatives was really what God wanted in my life. I was eager to hear Ed’s third option.
“The third thing you can do is accept these circumstances from God,” he said. “You know circumstances don’t make us what we are. Each of us faces our own set of circumstances, our own set of difficulties in coping with life and living the Christian life. Those circumstances do not make us what we are; they merely reveal the true character of who we are.”
In my heart, I knew what God was saying: “Accept what I am doing. Wait on me. Be patient. Let me work in your life.”
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If you are going through a storm in your life right now, my greatest prayer for you is that you will surround yourself with wise, God-fearing friends. Get plugged into your local church. Speak to your pastor. Gather a group of trusted companions and let them know how much you need their prayers.
You don’t have to go through your trials alone. God created us to be relational beings — to need one another and to rely on one another.
That’s not something to be ashamed of. Find someone you know you can depend on, like I knew I could depend on Ed, and tell them your greatest fears. I guarantee you it can only help. And don’t forget that you can always talk to your greatest Friend, as well. He promises He’ll never leave you.
If you’d like to continue reading about how to weather the storms in your life, you can order my book today for just $8.99. Or check back next week for another excerpt.