No Fear of Death

No Fear of Death: Fearlessness as a Spiritual Weapon

Fear of death is perhaps the biggest fear of all. And losing the fear of death brings wonderful freedom and victory.

You may have discovered the power of fearlessness while dealing with a playground bully, a business competitor, or some other rival. No opponent is more invincible than one who has absolutely nothing to fear.

The most effective way to defeat your adversary is to exploit their fear—of exposure, of pain, of losing, of shame. One of Satan’s most effective ways to defeat you is to exploit your fears. No one—not even the enemy—can hold anything over you if you come to the place where you are truly unafraid of the consequences, even no fear of death.

Fear is a weapon Satan uses against us precisely because he knows that once we lose all fear, his attacks no longer have a place to land. Freedom from fear is more than a benefit Christ’s victory makes available to us; it is also one of the strongest weapons we have against Satan and the kingdom of darkness.

The Example of Martyrs

On February 15, 2015, we all saw images on the news of ISIS militants preparing to behead twenty-one Coptic Christians for the crime of believing in Jesus. We can’t be certain of what was going on in the hearts of those twenty-one orange-garbed handcuffed Christians as they knelt in the sand, held by black-hooded terrorists, knowing their lives were about to end. But in the images we saw, their faces showed absolutely no fear.

Emotions

5 Ways to Befriend Your Feelings

Feelings are fickle. They’re real, but they’re unreliable. Emotions can be affected by everything happening both inside you and around you. You may see your emotions as overwhelming, and think you are at their mercy. I’d like to help you befriend your feelings instead of feeling like you are their victim.

Without emotions life would be colorless and purely clinical. God built us with the capacity to experience sadness, anger, pain, grief, fatigue, peace, joy, hope, and love. Many of those encompass more than just feelings, but you can’t experience any of them without feelings. Jesus expressed and experienced them all.

This past year I’ve experienced plenty of times when emotions felt overwhelming while I’ve walked my journey of grief. I’m also grateful that I had learned previously, and am learning again, what to do with feelings when they come.

You know that letting your emotions control you is neither healthy nor godly, but neither is stuffing and denying them. So here are some key steps to help you befriend your feelings, and make your emotions work for you rather than against you.

Befriend Your Feelings

1. Both “positive” and “negative” emotions are legitimate and can be healthy.

Shutting down negative feelings means cutting yourself off from the positive feelings also; you can’t be open to experiencing one without the other. The pleasure center and pain center in your brain are not completely separate. The opposite of love is not anger, but apathy. Deep pain can be very close to deep love and profound meaning.

First Year Alone

A Widow’s First Year Alone

No, I’m not really alone. I never have been, and I never will be.

But grief is hard. My husband died exactly one year ago. I don’t think I’ve ever been through anything so exhausting – not OB-Gyn residency where I’d spend long nights in the hospital with little or no sleep, not the weeks caring for my husband as he became increasingly unable to completely care for himself. They say losing a loved spouse is like losing an arm or a leg. I think it’s more like losing most of who you are.

Grief hurts. In some very real ways I’ve come to terms with the pain, and most of the time I focus more on the future than on the past. But there’s a treasure in grief that you can’t purchase any other way. Words don’t do it justice, and you’d never choose the pain you have to endure in order to get it. But for those of you who are walking a similar journey, perhaps these ideas will help you find your own treasure.

This is in response to some of you who have asked me to share more about my journey as a widow. I’ll try here to share some thoughts about what helped, and God’s place in the journey of grief.

What to do with Pain as a Widow: 2 Critical Keys

There’s no way to make death and grief OK. Death is an aberration in God’s universe, and every time we meet it there is suffering. We try all kinds of things to delay it, ignore it, and pretend we can evade it, but not one of us can escape death. Death hurts – a lot.

Grief is many things; loss, loneliness, anxiety, stress, anger, depression, exhaustion, and so much more. Grief comes in waves, and each one is different than the one before. If you’ve lost someone close to you, even caring friends are unlikely to fully appreciate its deep and long-lasting impact on your mind, heart, and life.

I think the best word to describe the impact of death on those of us left behind is pain. What do you do with the pain as a widow? The death of my husband Al last year wounded me deeply. And yet I’m still standing. Some days are harder than others, but I keep going. Some have asked how I can do so. It’s more than simply knowing God, although that’s important.

Several things have been helpful in my grief journey, but there’s one thing I’ve come to know that has made the most difference. And it is this:

It’s not supposed to not hurt.

You could take out the double negative and it would still be true; this is supposed to hurt. This is not OK. And when we as Christians try to make it OK we cripple our own hearts and miss out on the empowerment God would like to gift us with.   Tweet that.

For those of us going through grief it often seems that if we could just make the pain go away everything would be alright. But that’s not what God promises, at least not yet.

And it’s not even true. If the pain would magically go away, so would the memories, the love, the gift of that person in your life. That is true even if the relationship also included suffering.

Pain means we care. Pain means we loved. Pain means this is not the way God intended our lives and the world to be. Pain means our love was deep, our lives are different because of that loved one’s place in it, and their time on this earth changed us forever. Those are good things. Would we really not want to hurt at the death of someone we cared about so deeply?

It’s not supposed to not hurt.

So what do you do with the pain? How do you go on? Can you even go on?

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