I kept hearing bits and pieces about Rick Warren’s family in the news this week. I understood there had been a tragedy. I didn’t know the details, though I had my suspicions.
Last night, I was visiting with a fellow parent at my sons’ Tae Kwon Do class. He confirmed for me what I had already been suspecting. Rick Warren’s son had committed suicide.
How did I know? How had I perceived that in all likelyhood suicide was the “unmentionable” the whisperings were about? Because, I have been there. My family has been there. A prominent minister with a son that struggled with mental illness and took his life. Yeah…I have been there.
I suspect the church is more repulsed and intolerant of suicide than the rest of our American society. I imagine many faithful followers are asking, how can a son of man – a popular pastor who has sold millions of copies of a book that promises “a purpose-driven life” – take his life? How can that happen? What went wrong? Did He believe in God? Was his faith not strong? Why was he struggling when he had a dad like that? Where is God in this?
Oh, how I wish there were easy answers to these questions.
My immediate thought at the news was, “I wonder how this event will change Rick Warren’s ministry? I wonder what new perspective he will gain?” It will be impossible for him and his family to go through this and not question their faith, their core beliefs, their understanding of the power of God, and their understanding of prayer and divine healing.
I believe God can heal sickness, illness – even mental illness. I believe God can supernaturally stop events from happening – even prevent imminent death of an individual.
I also believe there are times God doesn’t intervene in ways we expect him to. And I really don’t understand how or why.
I have learned to sit comfortably with the profound mystery of it all.
In the weeks to come, Rick Warren and his family will be featured in the news circuits. Articles will be written. People will gossip. And, his son’s photo will be flashed across the media over and over again.
My soul aches for the family.
I ache for them because time and time again, their son, their faith, and their honor will be misunderstood, scrutinized, and judged.
I pray that they will be protected from the onslaught of vultures that will come in the form of those wanting a “good” story or a “good” nugget for gossip. I pray God will shelter them from the storm that has errupted in their midst. I pray that those people who love them and loved their boy will surround them and remind them of the good times and of the boy he was in spite of the illness. I pray for the mighty hand of God to protect them from all evil that is trying to rain down on them.
Will you please join me in prayer? And, when questions fill your mind in an attempt to make sense of this tragedy, will you please lift them up to God instead of joining in the gossip?
There is something for all of us to learn here. If we allow the questions to arise within us and lift them up to the One who has the answers, He will reveal more of himself to us, and we will grow in deeper and more intimate understanding of Him and His Church.
So, let the questions come, just be sure to direct them to the One who has the answers.