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Coping with Mortality



In J.M. Barrie’s novel Peter Pan, the protagonist, upon being wounded by the villainous Captain Hook, opines that “to die will be an awfully big adventure.”


While Christians certainly do not view death as an “adventure,”like Peter Pan, we are able to look forward to something beyond this life. As Christians are taught in Matthew 10:28, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”


Without hope in Christ, there is little to look forward to beyond this life. Unfortunately, this is a fallen world with plenty of suffering and misery. As the atheist philosopher Emil Cioran once wrote, “It is not worth the bother of killing yourself since you always kill yourself too late.”

Given the bleakness of such a worldview, it should not surprise us to learn that a recent study concluded that “deaths of despair” from suicide or alcoholism seemed to be closely correlated with the loss of religiosity. As the article put it, “States that experienced larger declines in religious participation in the last 15 years of the 20th century saw larger increases in deaths of despair.” [1]


This information correlates with the results of a study in 2004 that demonstrated, “Religiously unaffiliated subjects had significantly more lifetime suicide attempts and more first-degree relatives who committed suicide than subjects who endorsed a religious affiliation.” [2]

The significance of these two studies cannot be dismissed. While Christians ought to avoid saying that all religions are equally beneficial or equally true, we can take these facts to indicate that there is something about the belief in God that we need in order to survive the world’s darkness.


When Jesus quoted Psalm 36:9 in John 14:12, he said, “When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.’”


In some ways, these studies remind us just how literally Jesus’words may be taken. Without faith in God, the world seems bleak, indeed. A recent story about drug addiction in Philadelphia that was published by the DailyMail casts this into sharp relief as it describes the raw horror of the situation: “Addicts are shooting up in broad daylight, hunched over in a stupor or passed out on the streets. Many have raw, gaping wounds in desperate need of medical attention. And there are needles, syringes and garbage littered across the sidewalks.”[3]


Stories like this are illustrative of why some people are driven to suicide in despair over the horror of the world. As we are reminded in Isaiah 41:10, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”


Christians should always take heart in the promise of the world to come and the certainty that God’s plan cannot and will never fail.


Foundations of Truth hereby waives all claim of copyright (economic and moral) in this work and immediately places it in the public domain; it may be used, published, edited, and distributed in any manner whatsoever without any attribution or notice to Foundations of Truth.

 


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