Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.
Psalm 23:4 NLT
Fear is perhaps the most disabling emotion. Our failure to talk about death is often the fruit of fear. We know little about it, we haven’t had experience with it, we know it is an end to all that we know in this world. All this can create fear. Yet, we are in friendship with one who has died, and then rose again to demonstrate that death is not our final state. Jesus now accompanies us. God is with us even as the shadow of death blocks us from the warmth of the sun’s rays. I love the psalmist, for this valley is not a little bit shady. No! It’s the very darkest valley. Whatever we individually face that threatens our mortality is for us in that moment our darkest valley.
Fear is disempowered through knowledge and confidence. By talking about death in its many aspects, our knowledge grows and it loses its power to intimidate us. As for confidence, here is the acid test of our friendship with God. God loves us whatever level of faith we have. It’s me who suffers if I’ve few tools in the tool bag for relating to God. Jayne, who has regular treatment for her pain condition, has deepened her friendship with God through the Jesus prayer. She manages her anxiety and discomfort by resting in the presence of God.
It is possible to pray for “a peaceful and a perfect end”. These are words said each evening in Compline, the prayer office that completes the day and ushers in night. We pray it as we go to bed in case we are to be called home to God in our sleep. Praying for a peaceful death ahead of any sign of that event, is itself a helpful way to discovering the purpose and power in the rod and staff God carries for our comforting.
Are you at ease talking and praying about your death?
Lord, preserve us from fear and help us to lean into your promises never to leave or forsake us.