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Q. Can I control myself from fear of death and the panic attacks I am experiencing?

Hello, this happens to me a lot where I get a sort of panic attack. And I am scared that death is like sleeping where you don't know that you are there, and I want to know if it's like living on earth. Can I see things? Can I control my self? Please let me know soon. By the way, I am a sophomore in highschool.

Answer

Dear *****,

Your struggles and your question are very important. It is good that you have reached out to find answers.

It is possible that I have not understood your situation and your question, but as I read what you have written it seems to me that you are dealing with a fear of death. This is not unusual. Notice what the writer to the Hebrews has written:

14 Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives. 16 For assuredly He does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the descendant of Abraham. 17 Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 18 For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted (Hebrews 2:14-18).

There is a healthy fear of death, and it comes because sin entered the world with Adam and Eve. God said that disobedience to His command (not to eat of the forbidden fruit – Genesis 2/3) would result in death:

15 Then the LORD God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it. 16 The LORD God commanded the man, saying, "From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; 17 but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die." Genesis 2:15-17

Adam and Eve’s disobedience resulted in death for the whole human race, and this is a sentence we all deserve because of our own sin:

23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).

23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23

The bad news is that when we die it is not all over for us. We will all be raised from the dead by the Lord Jesus Christ and all will stand in judgment before Him:

27 And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment (Hebrews 9:27).

11 Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. 12 And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. 13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds (Revelation 20:11-13).

Overall, this is pretty grim news, especially for those who choose suicide as an escape from their sufferings, because death is followed by judgment.

Here’s the good news: God took the death sentence, the curse, and made it the cure through the work of His Son, Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus came to earth as a man (fully God and fully human -- see Philippians 2:5-11). He lived a sinless life (John 8:46) and though personally sinless, took our sins upon himself, and died on the cross of Calvary, in our place. All who believe in Him have the forgiveness of sins. Those who accept Christ’s sacrifice for them no longer need to fear death, but are assured of eternal life. Indeed, they look forward to fellowship with God for all eternity:

21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21).

10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. 11 He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. 14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:9-14).

51 Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP in victory. 55 “O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY? O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING?” 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; 57 but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord (1 Corinthians 15:51-58).

1 For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven, 3 inasmuch as we, having put it on, will not be found naked. 4 For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed but to be clothed, so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life. 5 Now He who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave to us the Spirit as a pledge. 6 Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord— 7 for we walk by faith, not by sight— 8 we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:1-8).

21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. 23 But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better; 24 yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake (Philippians 1:21-24).

My sense from reading your email, Ryan, is that death (or perhaps more accurately your fear of death) is at the root of your fear of falling asleep. I don’t think you can “control” this fear, it must be taken away by faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus on your behalf. Once this issue – the greatest issue of your life – is settled, the fear and panic will be gone.

8 In peace I will both lie down and sleep,
For You alone, O LORD, make me to dwell in safety (Psalm 4:8).

I hope this helps.

Bob Deffinbaugh

Related Topics: Soteriology (Salvation)