The name Rick Warren is well known to many people, especially in the US. He is the author of the best seller “A Purpose Driven Life” which sold more than 30 million copies, making him a New York Times bestselling author. It’s the sort of book everyone should read. It’s quite inspiring.
A Tragedy in the Warren Family
Rick Warren is an American evangelical Christian pastor and author. He is the founder and senior pastor of Saddleback Church, an evangelical mega – church in Lake Forest, California, that is the 8th largest church in America. Quite an influential Christian leader. But all is not so rosy with Rick Warren and his wife Kaye. Back in 2013, their 27-year-old son Matthew took a gun he had got online and shot himself. It was a tragic suicide – a shocking event that rocked this devout religious family. Words could not describe the horror of that day. Matthew had a borderline personality and had told his father for a number of years that he wanted to commit suicide.
”I never questioned my faith in God. I questioned God’s plan. There’s a big difference…” Rick Warren
In a television interview some months after the terrible news, Rick Warren said this. ”I never questioned my faith in God. I questioned God’s plan. There’s a big difference. I know God is a good God. But not everything that happens in the world is God’s will. Everything that happens in the world God allows, he permits, because it couldn’t happen without his permission. But we live in a world where there are free choices, so if I choose to do wrong, I can’t blame God for that. So God isn’t to blame for my son’s death. My son took his own life. It was his choice.”
How would you cope with a situation like this? In a sermon in his church, Rick Warren asked the intriguing question – There’s no shame when any other organ in your body fails, so why do we feel shame if our brain is broken?” Mental illness is a huge topic, and many experts are trying their best to bring the topic of suicide out in the open, to try and stop this terrible scourge. You can see the terrible statistics yourself. Every day seven people in Australia take their own life—that’s two and a half thousand suicides every year.
Suicide Raises The Question Why
Suicide is the leading cause of death for both men and women under 44. Of all the deaths of young people, suicide is the cause in one in four cases. More than other deaths, suicides raise the question of Why? Why did he do it? Why didn’t we see this coming? In other situations, we can often clearly identify the cause, a drunk driver or a disease, for example. But with a suicide, the victim is responsible for the death, not some outside force. That person is gone now. He can’t tell us why he did it or the reasons he had for leaving us.
It’s been reported that 370,000 Australians think about taking their lives and with the estimated 65,000 suicide attempts every year, and it is pretty clear that suicide is a huge problem. The sad fact is that suicide continues to claim the lives of too many Australians:
The sad fact is that suicide continues to claim the lives of too many Australians:
The day to day lives of too many families, friends, and loved ones are being turned upside-down by its impact. And too many people are being damaged by non-fatal attempts or are tormented by suicidal thoughts. Suicidal people often become so preoccupied with their own failures and the problems in their lives that they blow them out of proportion. When that happens, they feel overwhelmed and can’t see how they can ever find solutions to their problems or find relief from their suffering. Mistakenly thinking that there’s no hope for them to experience better lives, they then may choose to simply end their lives.
There Is Help
Thank God for the inspiring professionals who help and counsel people each day, trying their best to give sufferers new hope. It is enormous problem. But let me ask – is a self-inflicted death better than a God-given life? No, absolutely not. God is the creator of all that is good, and He can help anyone with suicidal thoughts. Just as he did for Rick Warren and his wife Kaye. The amazing thing is that we are not left alone to struggle through the destructive thoughts of destroying ourselves, as did Matthew Warren, and countless thousands around the world each day.
Jeremiah from the Old Testament was a giant of a man – known as the prophet of doom – a leader and a man who was imprisoned, suffered and knew what deep despair was all about.
When he was tormented and his life threatened, he called out to God “Put a curse on the day I was born. Don’t bless my Mother.” “Why did I have to be born? Was it just to suffer and die in shame?”. Jeremiah 20:14,18 (CEV)
“Look deep into my heart, God, and find out everything I am thinking” Psalm139:10
Sounds like a suicidal man to me. Of course, there is deep shame on this subject. It is so complex. But when we read the Bible it says “Look deep into my heart, God, and find out everything I am thinking.” Psalm 139:23 (CEV) And “…Your powerful arm would guide and protect me”. Psalm 139:10 (CEV).
Having a purpose in life is perhaps the strongest antidote to feelings of hopelessness and despair. God has a purpose for each of us. Suicide is not the answer. God is the one who heals the broken hearted and binds up their wound. The Bible says in Genesis 1:27 “God created humans to be like Himself – He made men and women.” God gave them His full blessing. Human life is sacred – life is meant to be lived to the full.
For Support: If you’re going through depression or struggling in some other way and need to talk, please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.