The Paralyzing Fear of Death

With so much bad news surrounding law enforcement this year, there is a paralyzing fear of death. It isn’t necessarily experienced by cops, but loved ones who send us off to work.

There is an old story that has made the rounds. Two football coaches are evaluating college recruits in a one-on-one drill. The bigger recruit knocks the other on his can time after time, but the feisty athlete continues to bounce to his feet looking for more. One coach said, “I want the guy that keeps getting up. There is no quit in him.”

“I want the guy that keeps knocking him on his butt,” replied the second coach.

The law enforcement ranks are filled with both players. I know cops are concerned about the alarming trends, but as I’ve talked to family members I’ve discovered they are the one’s being frozen in place. Peace officers believe at their core they will be the one to take out the bad guy, not vice versa.

Yet on occasion it happens, and we need to deal with it.

This is little solace, but realistically loved ones stand a greater chance of dying in a traffic fatality than a peace officer being shot and killed in the line of duty. (I’ve personally done the math, but it’s boring so I’ve excluded it.) Yet sadly, the murders are intentional while accidents are not.

Cops are courageous people. We need to disseminate our courage and confidence to family members in heaping doses. We need to assure them, regardless of the circumstances, we’ll fight through anything with a will to survive.

It’s a general principle of success that people usually achieve that which they focus on. Except it can work to our detriment if the focal point is negative. That is why one warrior can fight on with severe wounds, while another person bleeds to death when he cuts himself shaving. The illustration is extreme, but it’s the self-fulfilling prophecy at work.

It is unwise to offer spouses assurance that nothing bad will happen to their officer. That is not reality. But we need to remind them of our confident nature to perform our duty with measures of safety in place.

Stewing about doom and gloom is unhealthy. Naturally, I would like to encourage everyone to be in the right frame of mind regarding the business. That is one reason faith is so important to me.

Photo Courtesy Jim McNeff

Photo Courtesy Jim McNeff

If I walk through a door, I generally want to know what is on the other side. That is why I study the Bible. It is not merely an owner’s manual prescribing quality of life issues, but tells us what to expect once this life is over.

Peace officers wear a badge on the uniform. It symbolizes the shield carried by centurions into battle to protect them from harm.

The Bible describes the armor of God, with the shield represented as faith. “In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one” (Ephesians 6:16 ESV).

It’s faith knowing that God guides the righteous combating evil, and even when the enemy takes out a warrior, the family of warriors is tasked with being God’s hands and feet. God can take tragedy and turn it to triumph when he becomes our focal point.

It’s a process that is difficult to explain in words, but I could line up a thousand testimonials with personal stories of despair that turned to comfort when people surrendered their will to God’s way and adopted an eternal perspective.

Isaiah wrote about this as he prophesied about the coming Messiah—Jesus:

“But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.”

Physical healing is secondary to spiritual healing. Think about all the people you know that have been healed. The Bible documents many miraculous healings performed by Jesus. Yet, ultimately, everyone still dies. So when Isaiah wrote, “with his wounds we are healed,” he’s referring to our spiritual wellbeing now, and in eternity.

For those that continue to suffer on earth, there is a healed body in heaven awaiting those who place their faith in Christ Jesus to be their savior and Lord in the here and now.

– Jim McNeff

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