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Mourning with Rick and Kay Warren and Family

Brandon Cox and Rick Warren

Pastor Rick and I in his study behind his stage at Saddleback on the night he gave me his blessing and many words of wisdom for planting Grace Hills Church.

I’ve started to write this post quite a few times, and each time, I’ve deleted it. It’s hard to know what to say when someone you admire and love goes through something as tragic as what Rick and Kay Warren have endured the last few days. Their son, Matthew, ended his own life at the age of 27 after battling severe mental illness for many years. I have heard Rick speak of this behind closed office doors, asking for prayer and pouring his heart out concerning his love for his son and his trust in his God in spite of not understanding all the reasons why Matthew suffered so terribly.

I believe that Rick and Kay, their other two children, and all of their loved ones will battle an array of emotions for quite some time. But I also believe that the message of hope that Pastor Rick has shared for the last three decades has come from the deep conviction of his heart. Rick believes that “God never wastes a hurt,” and Matthew’s life and death will prove this, perhaps in ways we cannot fully see just yet.

I love the Warren’s and believe that now is a time when God’s people should pray for them fervently. It isn’t that they somehow deserve prayer more than others because of their success and popularity. Rather it is that Rick is a man who has surrendered himself and all that he possesses completely to God, and God has blessed him by using his life to change the world. And because God has given him such a public platform, his private pain is perhaps amplified. Not only do the Warren’s have to suffer through the loss of their son, but they must do so somewhat publicly by virtue of their influence.

There is little that I can personally do to alleviate their pain. In managing the pastors.com website and community, I’ve sought out some voices that deserve to be heard, such as Beth Moore, Geoff Surratt, and Greg Laurie. I’ve received and answered dozens of emails to Pastor Rick sent via pastors.com, all of which have been positive and encouraging. And I’ve also read some of the most cold and heartless comments on the web from people who have decided to use this moment of pain to pounce on the Warren’s.

What I can do is pray, and I believe that prayer is powerful, effective, and meaningful. And I’m inviting you to pray with me as you read this. As we pray for Pastor Rick Warren, for Kay, and for their family…

  • Let us pray that God gives them a peace that passes all understanding – that is a peace that is present when it doesn’t seem possible.
  • Let us pray for the heart of a Dad, a Mom who lost a son as well as a brother and a sister who lost a brother.
  • Let us pray that others who struggle with mental illness in the shadows would seek help in the light and find churches that will look beyond the stigma of mental illness to offer real compassion and healing.
  • Let us pray for gospel-empowered change in the hearts of accusers and cold, calloused critics who would use a moment like this to spit venom on the devastated and broken.
  • Let us pray for a church that hurts for her shepherd and a global community of church leaders that hurts for its mentor.
  • Let us pray that all that Pastor Warren has taught about the trustworthiness of God and the hope we have in Jesus be all the more believable to a watching world as the Warren’s continue to boldly proclaim their faith.
  • Let us pray that in their understandable weakness, God’s grace would be sufficient and God’s glory would be spread.

I can’t imagine their pain. I was in Pastor Rick’s office one day a couple of years ago when he was asking a few of us to pray for Matthew who was at that time hospitalized because of a severe bout with depression. As Rick became transparent and asked a few trusted friends to guard Matthew’s privacy and to lift him before the Father, he also taught a powerful lesson. He explained that life is not a roller coaster with up’s and down’s, but rather a set of railroad tracks where we endure suffering and blessing simultaneously. Pastor Rick never claimed to fully understand the reason for the existence of mental illness. But he did testify to the faithfulness of God in spite of it. Even through tears of hurt for his son, he was teaching powerful truths.

There are only a small handful of men on the planet that I consider to be my pastors, and Rick Warren is at the top of the list. So I’m praying for my Pastor and his family today, and I’m inviting you to pray with me.

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  • http://coloradoguy.com Steve Garufi

    Touching note. Praying for the Warrens.

  • Emilio Grande-Garcia

    I have been praying for them and will continue to do so… As you mentioned before it is hard to say something encouraging to the ones who lost their beloved person and praying for them can be sometimes our only way to say I am with you on this difficult time…

  • Anne

    We’ve had several family and friends who faced mental illness and lost by taking their life. I KNOW they are in heaven now. They had accepted Christ as their Savior and loved the Lord. We had a few people tell us they would not go to heaven. There is not one place in Gods word that says that. I would turn that around by praying for them. Grieve is a process to go through with the support of family and friends. The best we can do is pray for the Warrens who have made such a positive impact on all of us. I’ve been a Christian since a young age but became more of a Christ follower after The Purpose Driven Life. Warrens, God has His loving arms around you to comfort you and I’m sure he has given Matthew a great big hug and welcomed him into home and peace.

  • Ree

    Praying for strength & peace for the Warren’s.

  • Barbara Schilling

    To the Warren’s
    Though I cannot understand the depth of your pain, my heart goes out to you.
    I think of you often and lift you up in prayer.
    God bless you both.

  • http://katherinepasour.com Katherine Pasour

    Pastor Brandon and the Warren family,
    I want to express my sorrow at the recent passing of Matthew and let you know that you are in my thoughts and prayers. This is not just a recent pain for you, but one that has been with you for a life-time due to Matthew’s illness. Only God can bring you comfort and peace, but please know that so many people are praying for you. Your grace and courage during this time of pain and grief has been an inspiration to so many. May God be with you.

  • Tammy

    The news of Rick & Kay Warren losing their son Matthew hit me especially hard. My 17 year old son is struggles with bipolar everyday. It made me sad to hear that “only those closest to the Warren’s knew about Matthew’s mental illness.” In one way I understand in their ministry why not everyone should know, but it grieves me that the one place (the church) should be the place where acceptance should be, is not always found. My husband and I have felt the judgment and criticism of our son’s behavior by Christians since he was small. My husband and I had been in Christian school ministry for 28 years. Ministry was hard on our family (being in the fishbowl), but it was hardest on our son. He was rejected over and over by Christians; so much so he no longer believes. It breaks our hearts! As we pray for Rick and Kay’s loss, please pray for us that we will continue to be Christ to our son.

    I’m glad Matthew had the best of care, but it makes me wonder what hope do we have with our son? We are doing our best to find him the care he needs, but that too is hard to find affordable quality care. I hope as time passes Rick and Kay will be able to give a voice to those families who live suffer along with their loved ones who have mental illness. I also hope the church will begin to help and have more acceptance to those who are mentally ill.

  • Ntambose Rosetta Xaba

    Our hearts have been touched by Rick and his family going through this ordeal. I have personally benefited from both Rick and Kay’s books (Purpose Driven Life and Dangerous Surrender). What do you say when your heroes experience such suffering? We still trust God and pray that He gives us the grace to see His purpose in the pain.
    You are in our prayers.

    Love

  • Lynn bardin

    Just compassion and respect for Rick who has given so much to enrich myriads of lives. May you know Him as Comforter and Counsellor in a profound way.