Kay and Rick Warren return to pulpit after losing son to suicide – updated*

Time reports…

“Rick Warren has preached thousands upon thousands of sermons, but this  message was different. The last time he had stood the pulpit at his Saddleback  Church, in Southern California,  was on Easter, seventeen Sundays ago — and five days before his youngest son,  Matthew, 27, shot and killed himself, ending a lifelong struggle with mental  illness.

On Saturday night, for the first time since their son’s death, Rick and  his wife Kay returned to their 20,000-member congregation. Together they faced  the question tens of thousands of Christians have been asking: How are they —  two of the world’s most famous Christians — able to hope in God in the  midst of their despair?

Thousands of parishioners packed the auditorium and three overflow tents on  Saturday for the first of Saddleback’s five-weekend worship services. A dozen  local pastors all sat in the front row in a show of support for the Warrens,  along with Roma Downey and Mark Burnett, producers of the hit television series,  The Bible. When Rick and Kay walked hand in hand onstage, the crowd  stood to their feet in appreciation and applause. Kay began to cry, and Rick  kissed her on the forehead as he too grew teary. “Love you too,” he told the  audience. He paused for just a few moments, and then he began to preach.

First he thanked his staff, his church, and, the hundreds of people who have  supported them over the past four months. Above all, he thanked the Warrens’  other two children, Amy and Josh, who, he said, had loved Matthew and “talked  him off the ledge” time and time again. “They really are my heroes,” he said,  voice breaking.

The Warrens spoke honestly about their spiritual struggles with Matthew’s  mental illness. “For 27 years, I prayed every day of my life for God to heal my  son’s mental illness. It was the No. 1 prayer of my life,” Rick preached. “It  just didn’t make sense why this prayer was not being answered.” Kay spoke of how  she couldn’t even read certain Scripture passages about hope for months after  Matthew’s death.

Rick and Kay shared publicly for the first time about how they found out that  Matthew had died. On the morning of April 5, both of them had a sense of  foreboding that Matthew was not doing well. At 10 a.m., Rick was at the doctor’s  office. He had just been diagnosed with double pneumonia, and so he decided to  ask his brother-in-law to give the upcoming sermon, entitled, “What to do on the  worst day of your life.” At home, Kay put on her necklace that said, “Choose  joy.” Neither of them could shake the feeling that something was wrong, so the  two of them went to Matthew’s house to check on him. His truck was in the  driveway, but the house door was locked, and no one was answering. They wept  together as they waited for the police to arrive. Then their worst fears were  confirmed.

In the four months that followed, the Warrens have drawn comfort from the  community of faith, both ancient and new. They have treasured old biblical  passages from the prophet Isaiah — “When you go through deep waters, I will be  with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown” — and  from the Apostle Paul — “God is our merciful Father and the source of all  comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others.”  Friends and family have also held them close. “I am in this family of spiritual  redwoods,” Rick said. “Satan picked the wrong team to pick on.”

Ultimately, they both hold to the hope that God is with people during their  times of trouble, and that God will raise the dead. Matthew’s body was buried in  brokenness, Kay said, but will be raised in strength. Rick reminded everyone  that heaven is coming. He quoted the Book of Revelation: “Then God will wipe  away every tear from their eyes and there will be no more death or mourning or  crying or pain, for the old order of  things will pass away.”

Rick then made a promise: Saddleback’s next big ministry push will be to  remove the stigma associated with mental illness in the church. “Your illness is  not your identity, your chemistry is not your character,” he told people  struggling with mental illness. To their families, he said, “We are here for  you, and we are in this together.” There is hope for the future: “God wants to  take your greatest loss and turn it into your greatest life message.”

For the next six Sundays, Rick will preach a sermon series entitled, “How to  get through what you’re going through.” He will devote a message to each of the  six stages of grief: shock, sorrow, struggle, surrender, sanctification and  service. A larger program to address the specifics of mental illness has yet to  be revealed, but it will be similar, Rick said, to the way their church has  helped to tackle the HIV crisis.

Then, as the service closed, Rick joined the worship team in singing a  favorite evangelical hymn, “Blessed Be Your Name.” He lifted his Bible high  above his head and declared boldly to the God he serves: “You give and take  away, my heart will choose to say, Lord blessed be your name.”

From http://swampland.time.com/2013/07/28/rick-warren-preaches-first-sermon-since-his-sons-suicide/#ixzz2aPh7heNG

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7 thoughts on “Kay and Rick Warren return to pulpit after losing son to suicide – updated*

  1. I am very much a critic of Rick Warren but I am grateful that Jesus Christ is far greater a saviour than I (and Rick & Matt Warren) are sinners…..albeit we are all great sinners

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  2. there have been soe vile things said on twitter about this horrendous tragedy and I’m disgusted that some of these people appear to be Christians – attacking the Warrens at a time when they need our love and support not accustaions and hatred.

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  3. who cares if he was gay or not – there is no evidece of this adn speculation is about as helpful in this situatoin as – well its just not helpful. He killed himself – gay people kill themselves, straight people kill themselves – suicide doesn’t discriminate.

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  4. Don’t know that prayers are going to do much. Warren admitted as much in his statement regarding his son’s “mental health” issues. He said, despite many prayers, the issue continued.

    Many speculate that his son was gay and was battling his “demons.” Who knows? It is a tragedy though.

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  5. May God grant you the strength to carry on Pastor Rick and family and the serenity and peace of the knowledge that your beloved one rests in the arms of the Redeemer

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  6. Suicide is a devastating thing for any family to go through.

    The guilt is almost unbearable.

    My prayers are with the Warren family.

    May God grant them His unlimited peace in this time of grief.

    Like

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