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Christian Counseling - Death: A Foe or Necessary Companion?

DEATH! It is easy to understand why most people in our country don't want to think or talk about it. It is a depressing and fearful event that successfully wrestles control from all of us. Even in the Christian community, there is little focus on dying and much on living in eternity. A graveside service only briefly recognizes the existence of our foe and then quickly moves on to remind us of the glory or hope of life in the hereafter. Yet, in the New Testament (NT), life and related words are used 585 times, while death and related words are used 771 times. One might think that since Christians have to die to themselves before they can have life with God, they would be somewhat accustomed to and accepting of death. But for many the avoidance continues, as do the consequences.

Some of the consequences of avoiding facing death include:

1. Being ill-prepared for life. David asked God to teach him to number his days. Without understanding death we are limited in understanding and appreciating life. Pondering our own death need not be morbid, instead it can give us perspective on the preciousness of life.

2. Being ill-prepared for death. Death is a difficult part of life, even more so if we confront it only when it is knocking on our door. Learning to accept death as a necessary companion will make the experience that much easier. Think of what it would be like to never die. It could be a living hell to exist in a world corrupted by evil and where pain flourishes.

3. Giving anxiety and fear a foothold to rule our lives. These feelings may drive some toward unrealistic expectations and demands that medical science heroically save our lives and those of loved ones, beyond the natural span of life. As a result, the quality of life has become an important part of thinking about what constitutes life, not just whether a person continues to breathe. Further, some become obsessive and/or compulsive about health or germs.

4. Some never learn the blessing about letting go of control. In facing and accepting death there is a release from tension, anxiety and fear. It happens when we stop trying to control life and avoid death. Paul said he dies daily. If a person lets go of the most important thing in the world-life-, then and only then is he or she really free.

It may sound strange to consider meditating on your dying, but Ecclesiastes 3:1,2 says, "...there is a time for every event under heaven-a time to give birth and a time to die," and 7:3 says,
"Sorrow is better than laughter..." We can learn to live more happily and graciously when we fully face and accept our own death. We can have some control in facing death by choosing when we will emotionally deal with it, or we can be forced to do it when we have no choice.

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