"I believe, Lord; help my unbelief."
Have you really faced it? No one wants to. But what if that was the one thing necessary to overcome it? What if sitting with your deepest fear would reveal the path of escape?
Now, in this time when we have so much time - a gift never before handed to civilization, right alongside a curse - we have a supernatural ability to reflect, to go deeper into probing the meaning of life than ever before. We could do this in the comfort of our own homes. But that is likely to be the biggest obstacle. Our world may have shrunk to 2000 square feet (or less), but there is still a lot going on - either in our own heads or households - likely both.
Still, what's consuming most of us is worry, which is merely the first layer of the thing whose root we now have a unique opportunity to uncover. That thing is this: THE FEAR OF NOT EXISTING. There, I've said it. You can argue that it's not your deepest fear, but that only means you haven't dwelled on it. That is what I'm saying we need to do. We have to think about death and what it means. Usually the closest we come is imagining losing a loved one or the reality of that actually happening. The first stage of grief is denial.
I want to put forward the case that we spend our whole lives in denial of the most frightening thing that society collectively believes (without stating) will happen to everyone: CEASING TO EXIST AFTER DEATH. People claim to believe otherwise, but it's a shallow faith in a fictional afterlife or reincarnation that has no bearing on their earthly lives.
Then there are those of us with a more fixed belief system in heaven and hell, with a doctrine of salvation. We say we are secure in our faith, yet have we actually faced the fear? We cannot know with absolute certainty that we will continue to exist for eternity. Where were we before we were conceived? We don't remember not ever existing. Just sit with that for a moment.
It's possible our consciousness was wiped, but it seems more likely that we don't know because we did not yet exist. We Christians believe we existed in the mind of God. There's another thing to ponder for a minute. Our minds are finite; He - if he exists - is infinite. This is humbling and awe inspiring. This is a thought we should be having, and it should cause us to pursue such a being, upon the likelihood that He exists.
Because if we don't, that brings us back to our deepest fear, of NOT EXISTING. Play out that scenario when you're in the shower where no one can hear you wailing as a result of that excruciating thought process. What or Who makes us want to live so badly, with every fiber of our being, from a core - daresay a soul - that writhes in agony at the contemplation of being snuffed out?
Random chance offers no explanation for the yearning of our consciousness to continue forever. "Survival of the fittest" only attempts to answer "how?," not "why?," not "for what purpose?" Modernism / naturalism / materialism cannot address our deepest fear, which points to our longing, and to the question that we are born with, "What is the meaning of life?" Science is confined to the experiential world of the five senses, which is why it defines all non-plant life as animals, including humans, despite our ability to reason rather than operate only out of instinct.
Postmodernism, with its relativism, is just as inadequate to explain why we have those questions, let alone give us solid answers since it rejects absolute truth, as well as the reality of our senses, claiming that we are whomever we "feel" like - a man (biologically) can be a woman, a human in the womb is not a person unless it's wanted by the mother, and anyone who claims an objective standard of morality that transcends/supercedes human emotion is called a bigot. That rules out a prescribed "one size fits all" way to live that will assure us of a continued existence after death.
Atheists and others scorn Christians for believing in hell, while they themselves (consciously or unconsciously) believe in annihilation. Which sounds worse - a painful existence or none at all? If you had a choice between not living, living in torment, or living joyfully forever, which would you choose? If there was even the slightest chance of you having that choice, would you pursue the path that led to eternal life in heaven?
Why do we have an imagination? Science cannot answer that. Religion cannot answer that. But if we use our imagination to explore our deepest fear, it can lead us to God, and I put forth the case that that is why we have an imagination. It's also why we have a longing to live forever and why we ask what the meaning of life is. Our questions, our fears, our longings, and our imagination were coded into us by our Creator, so that we would seek Him.
If you are not a believer, use this time - this extraordinary gift of a pandemic that has drastically slowed down life - to pursue your continued existence, not just on this earth, but for all eternity. Read the Bible - start with the Gospel of John. Read apologetics to study the intellectual evidence - I recommend Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis, but there are many other great books - both classics and modern works. Read stories like Pilgrim's Progress, The Chronicles of Narnia, Lord of the Rings, and The Brothers Karamazov, all written by believers in the gospel.
Fellow Christians, all of the above applies to us, too. And that brings me back to the opening Bible verse that I quoted, "I believe, Lord; help my unbelief." We will doubt, we will sob in the shower, and we will pray. We will leave our heavy burden at His feet in the darkness and rush out into the sunshine, running on the sand along the sparkling sea, trusting that the shadow of death will be swallowed up in the light of His life and love, singing, "Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so. Little ones to Him belong, they are weak, but He is strong. Yes, Jesus loves me, yes, Jesus loves me, yes, Jesus loves me, the Bible tells me so."