Pastor Rick Warren delivers first sermon after his son's suicide
Warrens speak frankly about their spiritual struggles with Matthew's mental illness
Pastor Rick Warren took to the pulpit for the first time after the suicide of his youngest son, 27-year-old Matthew this past weekend. The Warrens' Saddleback Church in Southern California was packed to overflowing with worshipers. Both Rick and his wife Kay tackled the subject of their son's suicide head-on, as well as thanking their congregation for their ongoing love and support.
Appearing before a standing ovation, Kay Warren began to cry, and Rick kissed her on the forehead as he too became misty-eyed.
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."
Appearing before a standing ovation, Kay began to cry, and Rick kissed her on the forehead as he too became misty-eyed.
Thanking his staff, his church, and, the hundreds of people who have supported them over the past four months.
The Warrens were forthright 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.
The Warrens spoke publicly about how they found out that Matthew had died. On the morning of April 5, had a sense of foreboding concerning Matthew. At 10 a.m., Rick was at the doctor's office. The two of them went to Matthew's house to check on him, where the front door was locked. Their worst fears were confirmed after the police were called.
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," have given the Warrens strength in their time of sorrow.
Rick Warren has a since made a solemn vow that his ministry next big 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."
© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM
Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2014
Respect for Women: That all cultures may respect the rights and dignity of women.
Vocations: That many young people may accept the Lordís invitation to consecrate their lives to proclaiming the Gospel.
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