Over the last seventy years she visited many countries, undertook thousands of public engagements, and probably spoke to over a million people. A lifetime of faithful and sacrificial service is a shining example to one and all. In her determination to serve she undertook her last public engagement just two days before her death.
Most of the events and circumstances that brought her joy or disappointment were known by millions, across the world, yet she always displayed a selflessness that focused on others.
Nevertheless one characteristic of recent days is that we have had to consider death. Although we probably acted and spoke as though the Queen would live forever, her death on 8th September brought this subject into the forefront of our minds.
It appears as though the Queen had thought about this subject months earlier and probably, like many of us, throughout her life.
After his meeting with her in June 2022 one person said this:
“I walked away thinking that there is someone who is not afraid of death, has hope for the future, who knows the rock on which she stands and which gives her strength.”
Death is an unwelcome visitor into our lives, bringing sorrow and separation to those who remain. Contemplating it often brings fear of what awaits us once we die. Uncertainty and anxiety plague the minds of many when they think about it. So, how can someone not be afraid of death?
The Bible confirms that people do have a fear of death but also offers genuine hope that there is no need to be afraid.
“Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he (the Lord Jesus Christ) himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death He might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery” (Hebrews 2:14-15 ESV).
A fear of death is seen in the different attitudes to it.
Many people who believe that, after death, they will come before God seek to do enough good works to achieve His acceptance. The hope is that by living a good life and being good, then there will be a reward of entrance into heaven. Of course, the question should be asked, “How good do you have to be?” This approach to death, when “religiously” followed, results in enslavement to all sorts of works but brings no genuine peace of mind.
Keeping fit and healthy through exercise and diet is very important, but it would be extremely foolish to think these actions will mean we avoid death. We can become slaves to diet and exercise as we seek, at almost any cost, to postpone the inevitable.
In western culture one of the most common manifestations of a fear of death is to not think about it. At a time when almost anything and everything is up for debate and discussion, death seems to remain a taboo subject for most people. We are free to discuss a wide range of issues, some of which have great relevance to life (e.g., the cost of living crisis, government) and some that will have no impact on us (e.g., TV Shows, celebrity lifestyles). Death, however, is something that we will all have to face, yet is rarely spoken about.
Yes, there is a fear of death in society. So why was Queen Elizabeth seen to be someone who did not fear death?
From reading some of the Queen’s public statements and watching her Christmas Day message we know that she trusted in Jesus Christ as her Saviour and Lord. It was her faith in Him and His work on her behalf that meant she could have no fear of death. What was true for her can also be true for anyone else, no matter which family they were born into.
The Bible verses quoted in this article state three things Jesus Christ did:
- He took human flesh – the One who was, and always will be, God became a man and lived on this earth. The one huge difference between Him and the rest of humanity was that He never sinned in thought or deed. He lived a life of perfect obedience before God.
- He destroyed the devil – the devil is real and a great enemy of God and mankind. But he has been destroyed, not in the sense of ceasing to exist but in being rendered powerless. His desire is for every individual to be separated from God and to endure everlasting punishment. God's holiness and justice decree that death and everlasting punishment is administered to all who have sinned so, in his role as an adversary, the devil can demand that the penalty be paid.
However, the message of the Christian gospel is that Jesus Christ has borne the penalty for sin, and all who trust in Him for salvation will never experience punishment for sin. For them, death will be an entrance into His presence. All who trust in Him can enjoy Him now and forever.
The words of a popular hymn convey truth that every believer in Christ can enjoy: “No guilt in life, no fear in death, this is the power of Christ in me.”
- He delivers the slaves – to deliver means to “rescue”. The abhorrent slave trade is truly a dark stain on the history of many countries. Along with the stories of evil and wicked slave masters there are those of heroic men and women who risked their lives to free those who were helpless and hopeless captives. Although they were not slaves, they went into slave territory to rescue those who were.
In a far greater way Jesus Christ came into this world to rescue the helpless who through fear of death were enslaved. Because of His death and subsequent resurrection everyone who trusts in Him need have no dark foreboding about death. They can face death with genuine confidence, knowing what awaits them.
Whilst the process of dying can be very unpleasant, when I consider death itself, like our late Queen I can face it without fear, knowing that I will be "with Christ" which is "far better" (Philippians 1:23).