A Practical Approach to End-of-Life Issues: Anxious for Death

Close up hands of helping hands elderly home care. Mother and daughter. Mental health and elderly care concept

A Practical Approach to End-of-Life Issues
Presented by Rev. Robert R. Fleischmann

VIII. Anxious for Death

We live in a time where society seems almost anxious to terminate the life of anyone who does not seem valuable or needed. In response, we strongly instill in our people a duty to preserve life. This, of course, is consistent with Scripture as we care for these temples of the Holy Spirit.

A consequence of this is that our people face a conflict of emotions. While they strive to hold on to life, they also may secretly admit longing for death. Is that wrong? No, not necessarily. Consider Paul’s words when he said: (Philippians 1:23,24 NIV) “I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; {24} but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.”

The question has to be asked, “Why would we long for death?” Perhaps the most common reason we long for death is to escape the torments of the dying process. I have spoken with many people who confessed, with a sense of guilt, that as they saw a believing loved one suffering, they prayed that they would die. Patients also, as they suffered in the closing moments of life, also prayed for death.

When we hear believers say this we must not forget that they are believers. If they thought anything but eternal life with Christ lay beyond the grave they would not make this request. A prayer for death does not indicate an intention to assume authority over life and death.

At the same time, believers need to practice more caution in expressing these desires for death in the presence of unbelievers. Unbelievers also may wish for the death of an unbelieving loved one and feel good when death comes for the escape it brought from the suffering. The important difference is, however, that they escaped from temporal suffering to eternal suffering. For that reason, I encourage Christians to be very careful when referring to death as a blessing. We must never forget that, by the grace of God, we have this unique perspective on death.

The above article is part 8 of Rev. Fleischmann’s 10-part paper. Click here to view the complete outline.


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