By Tom Smith
It doesn’t matter who you are, where you live or how much you have.
We’re all susceptible.
Last week, the 27-year-old son of mega-church pastor, Rick Warren of Lake Forest, Calif., took a pistol and quietly ended his own life. Needless to say, this act of despair sent shock waves through Warren’s Saddleback Community Church, the nation and the world.
How could something like that happen to a young man whose father is one of the most well-known, successful pastor-leaders in the world? Wasn’t his dad the author of the 2002 best-seller The Purpose-Driven Life that’s sold over 30 million copies?
Yes, that was his dad.
But, having a famous father doesn’t make you or anyone else immune to depression, discouragement, despair, etc. Sometimes it even makes them worse.
Regardless, Matthew Warren, who’d evidently suffered with depression from childhood, purchased a handgun on-line without his parents’ knowledge. And, in an attempt to end the emotional and mental pain he felt, young Warren resorted to a permanent solution for a temporary problem.
But, according to his parents, Rick and Kay Warren, their son had been taken to the finest doctors and been on a variety of anti-depressants ever since childhood — and nothing seemed to work.
“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?’” Warren recalled.
And, when the medicine and therapy didn’t stop the pain, young Warren did.
Since then, the response to the pastor’s son’s death has been overwhelming. The majority of it has been an outpouring of sympathy from literally all around the world. However, some have used this as an opportunity to lash out at the Saddleback pastor for some of his Biblical teachings and stand on some social issues.
“The chickens have come home to roost,” wrote one hate-filled writer on social media.
“It’s God’s judgment on him for perverting the Gospel,” wrote another.
Dear Reader, it’s bad enough to lose a child for any reason. But, that’s made even worse when the child takes his/her own life. There are no words to capture the tremendous grief, disbelief and heartache that accompanies such a senseless act.
But, to have others respond with such hate-filled, heartless comments is horrible. They should be ashamed of themselves and hope they never find themselves in a similar situation.
Thankfully, the Warrens are responding with grace and forgiveness. The senior pastor of the 30,000-member Saddleback church has even Tweeted “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”
Even so, the hurt, shock, disbelief and dismay are still there — and will be for a long time to come. Those who commit suicide never stop to think of how their act will affect those they love; they’re simply drowning in despair and see no other way out of their pain.
As someone who suffered with depression, panic attacks and even suicidal thoughts myself for a number of years, I can understand how Matthew felt. And, having experienced firsthand others’ vitriolic, vicious hate-filled words and deeds, I can also feel the Warrens’ inward pain over others’ cruel criticism.
But, thank God for His sufficient Grace that enables us to forgive and go on with life. That’s my prayer for them. And, for those of you reading these words who are suffering with depression, cry out to the Heavenly Father and know He’ll hear you and come to your aid (Psalm 107:26-30). He helped me and I know He’ll help you. Trust Him. God bless you.
To contact Bro. Tom or receive his daily e-mail devotional, entitled “Morning Manna,” you can write him at P.O. Box 582, Coushatta, LA 71019 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.