John’s mother, Katherine, often says, “I just wish I would die. But I’m a coward – I’m afraid to die.” There is a pattern in John’s family of the elders thinking they are not going to heaven which makes the fear of death so much worse. How do you handle it when your dying patient doesn’t truly believe that when we confess our sins, they are forgiven?
This is such a struggle for the caregiver facing this problem. How do you help your loved one let go of this life when they don’t believe that they are going somewhere infinitely better? Perhaps they may tell you what they did that they believe will keep them out of heaven. If so, reassure them that God has already forgiven them for that sin. You may have to continue to reassure them as these thoughts continue to plague them.
John relates that Katherine has come close to death numerous times, but she won’t let go because of her fears. It is agonizing for John to watch her to continue to suffer. Often depression enters into this equation. For example, Katherine tends to fixate on never seeing God in Heaven and then becomes extremely anxious and depressed.
Max Lucado writes in his book, A Gentle Thunder. “Nothing can separate us from the love of Christ (See Romans 8:38-39 below)…but how difficult it is for some to embrace this truth. You think you’ve committed an act that places you outside His love. A treason. A betrayal. An aborted promise. You think He would love you more if you hadn’t done it, right? You think he would love you more if you did more, right? You think if you were better His love would be deeper, right? Wrong, wrong, wrong. God’s love is not human. His love is not normal. His love sees your sin and loves you still. Does he approve of your error? No. Do you need to repent? Yes. But do you repent for his sake or yours? Yours. His ego needs no apology. His love needs no bolstering. And he could not love you more than he does right now.”1
What Can I Do to Help Relieve This Fear?
- Have the person confess their sins or talk to a pastor.
- Talk to the family member about fear and forgiveness.
- Read Scripture verses that deal with forgiveness.
- Find books or other devotionals about forgiveness.
- Remind the person that whenever they stumble, the Lord is there to help them up.
1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just, and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Romans 8:38-39 For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Heavenly Father, You already know our wrongdoing so there is no need for us to hide it from you. You have already forgiven us for all our sins through Your son’s death on the cross. Help us to forgive ourselves. Take away our fears and replace them with Your peace so that we know for sure that we will face eternity with You. So help me right now to confess my sins and receive Your forgiveness, cleansing, and healing.
1 Max Lucado, A Gentle Thunder (Nashville: W. Publishing Group, 1995) 47-48.