The death by suicide of Rick Warren’s son this past weekend awakens pain and opens wounds for those of us who have had to travel the road of recovery from a loved one who takes his or her own life. I am one of those and my heart goes out to the Warren family. The one I lost was not my son, but he was a son and brother and father and husband. It has been ten years now and I still miss him. Someone once said to me that suicide is the gift that keeps on taking. That is truer than I wish.
Stuart was my soul mate and after my wife and children there is no one on the planet I love more. We were brothers for thirty-five years. We were referred to as brothers from different mothers. We were mates, roommates, and soul mates. I was his best man – twice – and he was mine once. We read each other’s minds. Both our wives found it kind of creepy how we knew each others thoughts. How I loved that man. How I love him still.
The last time I spoke to him, on September 16, 2003, he said, “See you in January. I won’t be home for Christmas because I want to be with you for your fiftieth birthday”. He took his life the next day. I conducted his funeral – once in Scotland, where he was living when he died, and once in Toronto at the church I pastor.
Hearing of Rick Warren’s son’s death brings things back quite vividly. We should be praying for the family. What they are going through is very tough.
It will not go away
None of this means that God is less than sufficient or that His comfort is not real and powerful. But it does mean that there is never a time when we do not need it. God’s comfort does not make pain go away. It helps us in the midst of it.
My friend Stuart was a believer. He loved Jesus and according to Pastor Warrren , so did his son. I believe it. Suicide and conversion can, and often do co-exist. Those who think they do not do not know either the Gospel or the ongoing effects of the fall in saved humanity.
Depression and mental illness and the inability to cope are relentless and merciless companions to those who are called to share life with them. How I wish I could make them all just disappear. I cannot. But there is coming a day when there will be no more pain or sorrow or sickness or death. It is an unbelievably great hope. For those who know Christ along with mental and emotional anguish, I just say, hang on too your hope. It is true. It is real. It is worth living for.
And as heart breaking as it is that there are believers suffering despair of life, there are countless more who share the anguish but do not have the hope of entering the next life to be welcomed into glory. How we who know Christ need to be sensitive to the silent cries that so many scream in the hope that someone will hear them and respond and tell them life is worth living. These people are everywhere. God puts them in our paths. Let’s pray that we see them, take notice of them, get to know them, and befriend them.
Justin Taylor has published links to several articles and sermons dealing with mental illness and suicide. You can find them here .