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  1. Geoff, Thank you so much for sharing your heart and thoughts concerning depression and mental illness. In the light of the often used phrase in Celebrate Recovery, “God never wastes a hurt,” I guess this is one way God is using the pain and agony you suffered. I do believe God has and will use Mathew’s and the whole Warren family’s battle with mental illness to bring more compassion into this world and into the

    Christian community towards those who never asked for it and struggle with it. I am not one who does and I am still in the process of learning about it and understanding. Your article has helped me to see how terribly painful it can be for those who have it and those who are close to them. I hope many people will read your letter. I will be encouraging my family and friends to do so.

  2. Thank you for sharing this poignant picture that most of us following the Warren family tragedy have not known. It brings tears to my eyes and touches my heart. I too have experienced the devastation and tragic loss from mental illness in my own family and know that the road to recovery is only beginning. So our prayers for healing should not end as the news from the past week fades too quickly from people’s memories.

  3. Hi Geoff My heart and prayers go out to Rick and Kay My parents lost my sister to asthma when I was 9 and she was 13 They didn’t go to church for 2 years They are both passed now I gave Rick a hug at Birmingham England at few years back he is sooooo dedicated just like his Dad “just one more for Jesus” May The Lord get them thru this valley
    God Bless You Guys ybiC Jim Steelman Cincinnati, OH <

  4. Beautifully written Geoff…. Miss you around here. Blessings! Vicki Damato

  5. Thank you for writing this prayer and story. I hope it goes as far and wide as possible.

  6. These days, my heart reserves a special space for Pastor Rick Warren, his wife Kay and their living children. Their heartbreak reminds me of a couple I met years ago, who talked about their travels to so many countries that I asked: What parts of the world have you not vacationed in yet? But what I really wanted to inquire was: Why are you living as if you’re trying to escape something? What are you running away from? Later I sadly wondered if they were running away from grief and painful memories. They had lost their son, then only a teenager, to suicide earlier.

    How do parents survive such a cruel tragedy? How do you move on with a dagger stuck in the depths of your soul?

    I asked the mother to tell me about her son. What was he like? What do you miss most about him? In tears she described a boy who loved life and possessed the ability to make her laugh and smile. I honestly believe she has not talked about him for a while, after he ended his life in a moment of anguish. It almost seemed she was waiting for that chance to remember him in a positive light—and putting those delightful memories into words was a breath of fresh air for her. “I hope you remember him for who he was before his desperate final act,” I said, sharing my wish that they would not define his personhood in light of his suicide. Their hearts’ landscape, of course, inexorably shifted the day their son took his life. Yet I pray that they choose to believe that the suicide is not all of their lives; it doesn’t have to define their family history; they don’t have to give in to the temptation of blaming themselves (Somehow, we could have stopped it. If we would have (fill in the blank) … he would not have killed himself.).

    More than anything, I pray these couple keep turning to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of all mercies and the God of all comfort. He is the living God who is now tenderly holding the hearts of the Warren family, and who is lovingly embracing their souls, as they grieve the death of their youngest son Matthew. He is the God who creates beauty out of ashes.

    As someone who had suffered depression and pain that bore no relationship to reality, but which could become so exquisite, that at times I desperately begged for death, I do understand the seduction (if I may use this word) of suicide. Some people say those who attempt suicide are selfish. But unless they have experienced utter soul torture and are stuck with a sick brain, they shouldn’t judge so quickly. If anything they should rejoice that suicide is only a topic they comment about and never a reality they have to fight against. They are the lucky ones.

    Of his son’s mental torture, Pastor Rick said: “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?’” Pastor Rick shared. I read online a person’s response to this devastating news: People who commit suicide don’t go to heaven. Really? Who made that judgment? Can someone’s choice in a moment of despair determine his or her soul’s fate? Doesn’t God’s heart shatter in pieces also over His children whose hearts writhe in relentless, unforgiving agony?

    How do you make people understand that death in itself doesn’tappeal to the depressive or mentally ill at all, but that you see it as the only escape out of a living nightmare, out of an existence deluged with despondency? How do you explain those moments when being alive equals every single second doused in anguish? How do you help others measure the agony that exceeds your capacity to bear, that which cannot be assuaged by the love of our
    families, their prayers, our own prayers, promises from His Word, and your willpower? How do you describe your panic, your terror, as you start believing the lie that no relief will come—not in that moment, nor the next, not in the following hour, nor next month, and my God, have mercy on me, not ever?

    Many statistics about suicide are alarming and disheartening, but the most important one—and which should give us hope—involves the fact that 90 percent of people who die by suicide suffered a diagnosable and treatable psychiatric disorder or a mental illness at the time of their death. As someone put it: Suicide is the most tragic result of a mental illness. So if a person exhibits symptoms of a mental disorder, we can encourage him or her to seek psychiatric help.

    I don’t know or understand why the Lord did not choose to use what Pastor Rick described as “the best doctors, meds, counselors, and prayers of healing” to end his son’s “torture” wrought by his mental illness. I am sobered because He chose to use these same provisions to free me from the stranglehold of emotional disorder. Yet the truth remains that He was sovereign in Matthew’s life and is so in his death. He did not withhold His mercy from this young man, whom his father honored and will remember as one possessing incredible compassion, gentleness and brilliance.

    I pray the evil one will not succeed in using Matthew’s death to advance his lies. See, how can a good and powerful God allow this to happen? I pray that sufferers not will succumb to the temptation of suicide, because, believe me, truly the anguish will stop. I hope that Matthew’s mental illness—that, alas, poisoned his gentle heart much of his short life—will not be wasted, and nor his family’s weeping; that somehow because of their experience, others who live with chronic depression and mental illnesses will receive more compassion and attention; and pave the way for those suffering in silence and shame to come out of hiding, fearing no stigma, and seek available help and take advantage of the Lord’s provisions for treatment and healing.

    Perhaps just like me and many others, by God’s grace, instead of bearing more moments of despair, many will know more moments of reprieve, hope and joy.

    • Thank you for sharing what you did JoLee. I just sent a reply to Geoff on his letter which was very good but I was actually commenting on yours thinking that it was his also. Thank you for being open about your battle with mental illness and depression.

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