God gives us the freedom not to have all the answers and not to pretend that we have it all together. At first, when Surratt heard the news about Patrick’s death, he put on his “game face.” But then he came to a point where he was alone and broke down and sobbed. He said, “At that moment I was nobody’s pastor. I wasn’t a leader. I was the son of a broken-hearted father who felt my pain. A father who knows the end of the story but chooses to weep with me.”
Surratt warned those watching not to bypass mourning in their haste to understand why something happened. “So many well-meaning pundits are already weighing in on Darrin’s life without pausing to reflect and to mourn,” he said. “Give it time. We think we have to do something, and what we need to do is to sit. I’ve done a lot of that this week.”
We also need to focus our anger in the right direction. Anger is a normal part of grieving, and we see people feeling anger in John 11. Lazarus’s sister, Martha, seems as though she could have some anger at Jesus because he did not show up in time to save Lazarus from dying. People in the crowd wonder why Jesus didn’t stop Lazarus from dying even though he had healed the eyes of a blind man.
“Have you ever been angry at God?” asked Surratt. “Sometimes it’s hard to see God’s higher purpose in your grief and in your pain.” It is normal for us to feel angry, but it is dangerous to remain in the lies we believe when we’re angry. Said Surratt, “As your pastor, that’s the biggest thing I’m concerned about right now.”
Perhaps surprisingly, Jesus is also angry at Lazarus’s death, but he is not angry at any person or at God. Rather, he is angry at death itself, described in 1 Cor. 15:24-26 as our enemy. His anger has the right focus.
Finally, we need to remember that death never has the final word. In John 11:26, Jesus tells Martha that whoever believes in him will never die. He then demonstrates his power over death by raising Lazarus from the dead.
Because Patrick believed in Jesus, he is with him now. Even though he died, death does not have the final word. Instead, Patrick has eternal life.
The biggest question at the moment, said Surratt, is, do you have this eternal life? Do you believe in Jesus? If not, said the pastor, trusting in Jesus is the best way you can honor Patrick’s memory today.