The Body of Christ across the world has been weeping this week ... weeping for a family whose son is no longer with them. Rick and Kay Warren are generals in the Church at this time in history. Their leadership, message and integrity have made a profound and lasting impact that will long outlive their days on earth.
But today, they are simply grieving parents. I grieve with them. Although I don’t know them personally, I am committed to holding up their arms in prayer. I am committed to standing with them in these dark, dark days of their life together as parents.
Have you ever been so desperate that you contemplated taking your own life? Do you know someone who stands at that crossroads today?
I know that people identify me as “that joy girl”. Some people don’t even call me “Carol” ... they call me, “Joy”. Some people believe that I am Mary Poppins with a Bible ... or Pollyanna with a glad purpose. But those sweet identities don’t begin to describe my call or my beliefs.
I know that life is real and hard and can be devastating at moments. I also know that we serve a God Who cares more than we can imagine.
I also know that we are all wired differently ... some of us can let the sludge of life fall off our emotional shoulders without a second glance. Others of us, take the grime and disappointments of life and keep it forever in our hearts as a defining component of our souls.
I am not a doctor, a psychologist or a counselor. I am just a girl in love with the Bible. I have experienced the stabilizing difference that consistently reading the Word of God has made in the roller coaster that my emotions had constructed.
This is what I want to say to you today ... if you are depressed. Get help. Talk to your family doctor or go to a Christian counselor. Do everything that they tell you to do. But don’t ever forget the part that your spirit plays in your emotional health. Take the best advice of doctors and counselors, but also take my advice. Read your Bible every day. Meditate on it. Worship your way through the storm. There is healing and miraculous power in that place.
If you have experienced mental illness, there is no cause for shame. Find a medical professional whom you can trust and build a professional relationship with this person. Take their medical and professional advice and take my advice as well. Read your Bible every day. Meditate on it. Worship your way through every storm. There is healing and miraculous power in that place.
I don’t understand why the heartfelt prayers of Godly parents were not answered in the way that they had hoped. But I do know that we serve a God, filled with eternal loving kindness and compassion, Who is weeping with those parents today. He knows what it is like to see His Son die.
God knows the pain of the Warren family and is with them even in the valley of the shadow of death. It’s a promise that He would meet us there in that place that no parent would ever choose to walk.
I can also tell you that as Rick and Kay Warren, mommy and daddy to Matthew, walk through that dreaded valley, that when they look behind them, they will see something else. They will see the goodness and loving kindness of the Lord in hot pursuit.
There is so much about this life that we don’t understand. I don’t understand war ... or bulimia ... or abortion ... or sex trafficking. I don’t understand adultery ... or child abuse ... or cutting ... or tragic accidents. You can add “suicide” to that list, too. I don’t understand suicide, do you?
But I do know that God has a plan for each one of our lives. His plan trumps pain, discouragement and depression. God, in His omnipotence and eternal kindness, will use even the brevity of Matthew Warren’s life for His purpose and plan. God really is that big and that good.
I don’t believe that using phrases like “God works all things together for good,” are platitudes at times like this but that they are precious promises meant for application at moments exactly like this. Knowing that God really does work all things together for my highest good and for His eternal glory, have kept me going in the darkest days of my life. God promised that when we didn’t like life or understand life, that He was behind the scenes touching life with His eternal goodness and glory. I can worship a God like that! I can worship Him in spite of my human questions.
Let me tell you one last thing that I believe ... you may not believe this but I do. I have thought long and hard about it ... prayed about it ... and studied the Word of God concerning it. I have talked to great men and women of the faith about it. This is what I have come to believe about suicide ...
Matthew Warren walked into heaven’s entrance on Saturday morning. He was welcomed home by God, Who loves Him unconditionally, and by Jesus, Who paid the price for his sins. Why do I believe that?
Because I don’t believe that suicide is the unforgivable sin. I believe that God understands the desperation of mental illness and chronic depression. I believe that God’s love for me is greater than my most desperate moment in life. I believe that His forgiveness overrules my choices.
This blog post may have left you with more questions than it does answers ... but my prayer is that you will read these few things between the lines:
God loves desperate people. He loves desperate people who choose well and He loves those who decide to be with Him rather than continue on this journey known as “life”. His love for us is not based on our human choices but it is based on His eternal nature.
God’s forgiveness covers all of our sins. Past, present and future. The cross changed everything for people. The cross changed everything ... even for desperate people.
There will always be somethings about life on planet earth that we don’t understand. We are humans. But in those moments when confronted with that which we are unable to understand, God has given us a greater gift. He has given to us His peace ... the peace that passes understanding. I am praying that is what He gives to Pastor Rick and Kay in this moment. Not understanding ... but peace.
Would you join me in praying for them today?
“Dear Jesus, I love You so much. I come to You today on behalf of my brother and sister in the Lord, Rick and Kay Warren. I pray that You, the God of all comfort, would comfort them today. I pray that Your gracious Holy Spirit would be their constant and kind companion. I pray that You would give them strength for the journey. I pray that You would use them mightily in the days to come. In the powerful Name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.”
Oh ... and one more thing ... if you know someone who is depressed ... be their friend.
If you know someone who suffers from mental illness ... love them and their family without judgement. Spend time with the person who is struggling. Words of encouragement and genuine acts of friendship may be all that they need to just keep going one more day. It is, after all, what Jesus would do.