Last updated on October 7, 2020
I thought I would bring up this question that has been particularly heavy on my mind for some time.
I have a fear of death – not eternity without God, I am a Christian and am certain I’ll go to heaven when I die, but of the process of death (being in an accident, getting shot, etc.). I know it is normal for people to be afraid of death, but sometimes this gets in my way, and I believe the Lord doesn’t want me to live in fear.
One particular ramification of this fear which I’d like you to address is my fear of flying. This is particularly bothersome since I come from a missionary family and we have to fly to a conference almost every year, not to mention trips during furloughs. Additionally, we would like to make a trip to visit family, some of which could involve a 20-30 hour flight. I know all the facts: that planes are built to withstand massive amounts of force, that pilots and ATCs are well trained and competent, that I’m more likely to die in a car crash (and have come close to having one) than in a plane crash, that turbulence is just the “waves of the air”, etc. However, these facts have not helped me. I’ve tried everything I can think of, all kinds of diversions and distractions, I ended up holding my mom’s hand on my last flight and I felt so childish. Can you give me any advice on how to overcome this fear?
I look forward to hearing from you both on the fear of the means of death and on the fear of flying in particular.
Thanks so much.
One of the more typical roots to fear is the unknown. Flying isn’t unknown to you, but death is and so it is natural to have a fear of what might actually happen as you die. The problem is that there is no real way to prepare for it as none of us know when or how we will die. Ultimately it comes down to trusting that God will take care of us. “Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows” (Mark 10:29-31). Jesus told this to his apostles just after revealing that they would be facing all sorts of persecution as they taught the gospel (Mark 10:16-28). They were certain to face a lot of pain and agony and all but John would be killed eventually. Yet Jesus could tell them not to fear because God values them — and He values you.
The usual way to deal with fear is to face it. That is really what courage is. Courage isn’t the lack of fear, it is continuing despite the fear. Notice that you flew anyway — you displayed courage!
I would like you to read The Courage to Overcome Fears, work through all the verses listed at the end of the lesson, take notes about each one, and then answer the questions at the end.
Thanks for the encouragement, and your answer in itself was already helpful, though I will make sure to read the other article you pointed me to. Thanks so much.