This is beiong published six days late due to technical difficulties
 Rick and Kay Warren have suffered a terrible tragedy in their life.  Friday their 27-year old son Matthew took his life “in a momentary wave of despair.”  Matthew had struggled with deep depression, suicidal thoughts, and mental illness most of his life.  It had not been overcome by counseling, medication, consultation with top doctors, and mountains of prayer.  Warren wrote to his Saddleback congregation: “”this was an illness that was never fully controlled and the emotional pain resulted in his decision to take his life …I’ll never forget how, many years ago, after another approach had failed to give relief, Matthew said ‘Dad, I know I’m going to heaven. Why can’t I just die and end this pain?’ “

The Warrens are not the only family including Christian families who have seen a battle lost with mental illness in such a troubling way.  Even people who proclaim hope and live by hope know that in this fallen world despair can gain a foothold and in a moment of desperation destroy a precious life.

Rick and Kay have lived a high profile life as Christian leaders and along the way have gained some incredible “haters.”  From persons who have been incensed by their opposition to gay marriage, to Christians who have been offended by their willingness to show compassion even when it required rubbing elbows with persons of the Islamic faith, to other Christians who considered Rick’s teaching in THE PURPOSE DRIVEN LIFE to be heretical–Rick and Kay have been buffeted over and over for their faith and ministry.

And in the midst of this tragedy, it did not take long for their “haters” to grab the airwaves and  hit the digital highways to pour contempt upon them.  Atheists who see this as a triumph against people who believe in God, gay rights supporters who see this an occasion to attack their moral character; and worst of all, so-called Christians who among other things have taken the opportunity to pronounce that suicidal Matthew is now enduring the flames of hell.

USA TODAY   has published a report on this vitriol that describes in some part what I cannot dignify in this blog with repeating.  But for those Christians who have chosen to beat the “digital tom-toms” to pronounce judgment on the Warrens, I must agree with blogger Todd Rhoades: “There are many people that I don’t agree with.  Especially theologically.But to go after them, personally, at such a time as this is overtly unchristian. This heartless, vitriolic, self-righteous rhetoric is about as far from Christlikeness as you can get.”

Better the words of Christian evangelist Greg Laurie: “At times like these, there really are no words, but there is the Word. There is no manual, but there is Emmanuel.”

Today I offer this prayer for Rick and Kay and their family and church:  “Lord, you walk with us in all times and especially in the valley of the shadow of death.  Nothing separates us from that love and we are sure that You share the heartbreak of the Warren family.  Comfort them with the knowledge that You will never leave them nor forsake them. Remind them that the voices of hate speak for Satan, not for You. And Your voice is the only One that matters.  And we would dare to pray, Lord, You know the heart of Matthew and we pray that You have seen a heart of one who tried to do your work even as he struggled with his own illness and inner demons. Hold him close in Your love.  In Jesus name. Amen.”


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