I’m going to occasionally throw up a brief book review on this blog. I’ll be reviewing books that I have interacted with as a pastor, or that have addressed something I’m going through. Or both, which is the case with What Are You Afraid Of? by Dr. David Jeremiah.
What Are You Afraid Of? examines ten of the most common fears we face, such as the fear of financial loss or the fear of being alone. The chapter that hit close to home with me—and I’m not entirely comfortable admitting this—is the fear of dying. I know the gospel, and I believe it with all my heart, but I still feel anxiety in my gut at times over the idea of death. As Christians we often don’t give one another other permission to admit this fear (or many of the fears discussed in this book), but it’s real and present in the lives of many who love Jesus. As a pastor, I frequently talk with people who experience panic and anxiety over their mortality, or when they think of the death of the people they love. One woman in our community recently told me, “I wake up in the morning sometimes in a mini-panic attack, sweating and struggling to breathe, because I’ve had a dream that one of my children have died.”
Let’s be honest, death is not natural, and it doesn’t sit well with us. This is precisely why we need constant reminders of the truth that death has lost its sting. We need people to speak God’s grace and truth to us, reminding us our life doesn’t end with the last breath or heartbeat.
Dr. Jeremiah’s chapter on the fear of death is a solid biblical treatment on the subject, and it reminded me that even in the process of dying—or experiencing the death of a loved one—God is with us. And that’s not a small thing, because where God is, “there is fullness of joy (Psalm 16:11b)”…even in the valley of the shadow of death.
I’d recommend this book for those who want to examine their fears and experience the power and freedom of God. One way to read this book would be to read a chapter a week and keep a journal of the times when the fear shows up in your life. When you recognize the fear, pray and ask God to replace the anxiety with a deep trust in His promises. I have to believe that God will help expose and expunge our fears when we seek His help.
Life is simply not as it should be, or will be, and until we are with Christ, we are all in a fight to maintain our faith. Fears threaten faith, and Dr. Jeremiah’s book threatens those fears by helping us hear God’s voice in Scripture.
This post is part of a roundtable conversation on the book at the Patheos Book Club here.