Sadness and Madness

Saturday shortly after noon, I filled up the dog bowl on the back porch with water and pitched dishes in the dishwasher so that I could head out with Melissa for a bite to eat and maybe a little shoe shopping. She’d spent the night with Keith and me in the country and we’d had a lazy Saturday morning over coffee and conversation. I’d set out my purse and keys and decided to wipe down the kitchen counter before we walked out the door. Just as I sprayed the cleaner and grabbed the dishtowel, Melissa walked in staring at the screen of her phone with the oddest expression.

“Mom, I don’t know if it’s true or not but I’m seeing references on Twitter to Rick and Kay Warren losing a son.”

She was ashen. My stomach flipped and, over the next few minutes as she read to me bits and pieces of breaking news, we feared the worst. I felt a hot sickness in my throat. My relationship with the Warrens is the same as most of yours. I have simply been served and led well by them. Although I had the joy of ministering to women on the Saddleback campus some years ago, my stay was brief and our schedules were wrapped entirely around the event. I have not had the opportunity to get to know the Warrens in the way that personal friends know one another but I always knew in my heart that I’d like them so much. We’re similar ages and in similar seasons with our families. Meanwhile, I have  loved them and esteemed them in Christ as faithful and mighty servants of the living Lord Jesus Christ. And quite possibly, among the mightiest to ever serve this generation.

Within an hour of Melissa walking into the kitchen with those first pieces of news, someone very close to the Warren family confirmed the tragedy on Twitter. We were heartsick and not for media personalities or even public servants. We were heartsick for a family of real people with breakable hearts. And we wept. Many of you undoubtedly did as well.

An odd mix of feelings overtook me with increasing force through the afternoon and into the early evening. The sadder I got, the madder I got. Mad at an astonishing satanic force that stoops viciously and swoops in unscrupulously to attack children and to prey on their weaknesses as they grow up, shooting so relentlessly at one spot that they can barely get to their feet between arrows. I’ve been that child and many of you have, too. Madder still that the devil in all likelihood delights in nothing more than targeting the children and dearest loved ones of true servants of God. Nothing tries our faith like the suffering of our children. At the end of the day, our faith is what the devil is after most. Without it, it’s impossible to please God. This is why Paul could say with relief nearly palpable on the page of his final letter, “I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith.

We’ll all finally make it to our finish lines but the cliffhanger along the way will be this: will we keep our faith? That isn’t the same thing as keeping our salvation. I don’t believe my salvation is something I can give back. I received it by grace through faith from Christ Himself and my works don’t secure it no matter how my woes obscure it. His grip never loosens. Nothing can snatch us out of our Father’s hand. What’s at risk is our active belief in who God says He is, what He says He is like, and what He says He can do.

Is He good? Is He faithful?

So the enemy sets out to knock the feet of our faith out from under our walk. And there is nothing more effective toward that end than targeting the ones we love most on this planet.

I don’t say that to scare you. I say it because I believe it is the hair-raising truth. No, we are not abandoned here as victims on this damaged sod. We are not abandoned at all. Our God is with us. The Spirit of His Son is in us. We are more than conquerors through the One who loves us. We are not at the mercy of Satan. We are at the glorious, life-breathing mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, a mercy that leads, as Jude 21 says, to eternal life and will ultimately spill like a river into a sea of reality where no sufferings of our past will compare with the glory of our present. In the meantime, greater is He who is in us than he who is in the world but make no mistake. This is a vicious world we’ve been left to serve. One God still loves or we would not still be here.

And then, in that mixture of emotions Saturday afternoon, I got madder and madder at the bullies in the Body of Christ. I thought how much it turns out that the Warrens have been through personally and, if they are like most leaders, all the while putting out fires and putting up with a bunch of trash-talk from people who would call the same Jesus Lord.

God help us. In the words of James, These things should not be so, my brothers and sisters.

I don’t believe one of us here in this community thinks that leaders should be immune to questions, constructive criticism, and accountability.  That’s not the kind of thing I’m talking about here. I’m talking about bullying. There are Scriptural means for going to a brother or sister to reason with them about matters we genuinely consider to be off base, misleading, or in error. You and I both know that much of what happens out there in public forums is the furthest thing from biblical.

It is slander.

I went on a walk through the woods Saturday late afternoon and did something I don’t often do. I cried angry tears. I got so mad that I could have hit somebody. I kept thinking how believers attack one another and sling stones at each other like the other can’t bruise or break. And all the while that person may be in so much personal pain that it’s nearly unbearable. I’m not transferring this to the Warrens. I do not know them personally. I’m telling you what I know to be true about most people out there. Most of us are in significant pain of some kind. That doesn’t mean defeat necessarily. It just means pain.

Life is hard enough without hatefulness rife in the Body of Christ. We are called to carry one another’s burdens, not pile relentlessly on top of them. We can still hold one another accountable. We can still ask questions. We can still disagree. But we can do it with respect.

I’m sick of the bullying. The mud-slinging and the meanness. I’m sick of careless, idle words thrown out there in the public square and professing believers in Christ standing on the necks of their own brothers and sisters to sound smart and superior. As if it’s not enough that we are surrounded in this culture by Christian haters, we’ve got to have our own hater-Christians. It’s insane.

When we turn people into caricatures, everything’s game. The moment we depersonalize them, our consciences harden and we can mock and slander at will and have a blast doing it. Snide blogs and tweets and Facebook posts about various leaders can also be effective ways to jump in their spotlight. Bullies aren’t just mean. They’re self-serving. They’re platform-hunting. They have to borrow one to perform.

No, I don’t think that saying all of this will change it much but some things still need to be said. Sometimes we need to speak up and call something wrong. There’s a bigger issue in the Body of Christ than immorality. It’s hatefulness. If the greatest priority Christ assigned to us was love, the gravest offender is hate.

Just about the time cynicism threatens to overwhelm us and turn us into the very people we can’t stand, genuine love – the real thing – erupts right here on this earth like concrete breaking open to a spring. Compassion and tremendous affection are pouring forth from the Body of Christ for the Warrens right now. It is right and it is lovely. We have been served well by them and have learned so much from them. To respond with expressions of love, comfort, and intercession is our honor and privilege. We must and we will.

But even now at the hardest moment of their lives the Warrens can teach something vital if we are willing to learn. Their heartbreak demonstrates what has always been true but has never been more profoundly overlooked: these who serve us publicly also suffer privately. They are not caricatures. They are not just personalities. They are people living on a painful planet with the rest of us.

The Warrens will come forth like gold. The enemy will not win. They will fight the good fight. They will finish the race. They will keep the faith.

I love the Body of Christ. I don’t want want to get cynical. I don’t want to sit around and hate the haters or I become one. But this morning I just want to say this. We can love each other better. Let’s do. People have enough hurt. Let’s be careful with one another.

 

 

 

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735 Responses to “Sadness and Madness”

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  1. 1
    Michele says:

    Amen, amen.
    Recently there was a horrific crime in our area where a man raped a 10-year old girl and killed her mother. Everyone was understandably infuriated.

    Yet at our study group, we talked about that man. He was slightly disfigured, so he likely endured persecution, especially early in life. It is also very likely that he himself has been abused. Who knows – maybe he had never been shown love. That does not in any way excuse his actions, but it does shed some light. There is only so much pain a person can bear. Hurting people hurt others and themselves, often in ways that seem to make no sense to outsiders.

    This is fallen world, and there is a lot of pain. The only way we are to get through it is to stick together, with Jesus – to align our hearts, minds, words, and actions with His.

  2. 2
    Janet says:

    Thank you, Beth.

  3. 3
    Gretchen says:

    Thank you so much for bringing this to light. This spoke profoundly to me…”As if it’s not enough that we are surrounded in this culture by Christian haters, we’ve got to have our own hater-Christians. It’s insane.” May God help us all to be careful with one another, as you implore.

  4. 4
    Redeemed says:

    Dearest Beth,

    Amen.

    And amen.

    Lord, may our words be few – and those words that are spoken seasoned with love and compassion. Whether it is a public leader or a more personal relationship, may our opinions not be our gods. May we not make judgments based on what we see on the surface. May we not hide behind our computer screens and scatter our ugliness to the winds, thinking we are not accountable because we don’t see the faces of those we wound. The overflow of our hearts spills through the internet. May it be sweet, please Lord may it be loving. And true.

    Prayers for the Warren family, for the families in Newtown CT and all those who suffer from the hand of a vicious enemy. Let’s not shoot our own wounded.

    Beth, thank you for speaking.

  5. 5

    I totally agree, Beth. Oh my goodness, we all indeed have enough hurt, and we as believers should definitely be careful with others. An important word for today and every day.

  6. 6
    Kyla in Tomball says:

    Thank you for this touching and true post. As I read it, I had just listened to Speak Life by tobyMac along those same lines. Obviously a theme from the Holy Spirit that I need to hear and heed today. Bless you for the good word today, as always!

  7. 7
    Deborah says:

    Thank you for this, Beth.

  8. 8
    Alice says:

    Thank you for sharing your heart on a much needed area. As Jesus said, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:35

  9. 9
    Shaci says:

    I agree!

  10. 10
    amybhill says:

    well said. praying for the warrens (and for you, my beloved teacher). xo!

  11. 11
    stacy says:

    As a pastor’s wife I say … well said Beth Moore. May God bless you ~ and may God bless and be with the sweet Warren family as they walk through this time of their life and ministry.

  12. 12
    Karen says:

    Thank you Beth for the gentle reminder….It is so easy to look at public leaders and believe that they have been given easy lives and so it is easier for them to work for God….but that isn’t truth….we serve God and work for God USING the things in our personal lives that cause us the most grief and pain…..and believing that others don’t have pain, grief, and difficulties is a lie of satan to try and alienate us from each other…

  13. 13
    Shellie Rushing Tomlinson says:

    Beth, you speak for me — just so much more articulately. Thank you. He is worthy of a body that loves one another!

  14. 14
    karenzach says:

    I stand with you in this gap, angry at the author of destruction, frustrated that in that moment when Believers ought to be praying we are so often editorializing(guilty of this myself), and hurting for the wounded among us who struggle against a darkness unimaginable.

  15. 15
    Tammy Perkins says:

    So well said Beth!! Grateful for your voice and the truth spoken!

  16. 16
    Joanna Moore says:

    Strongly agree. Something I heard in a Bible study years ago has stuck with me, “Don’t become a member of the CCC Club = ‘Christians criticizing Christians.'”

  17. 17
    Tammy S says:

    Amen and preach it sister! My first thoughts on hearing the news was the pain believers cause each other and my prayer was that The Lord would be glorified through his saints LOVING one another as James calls us to do. Thank you Beth for once again spelling it out so much clearer than I could!

  18. 18
    Christy Youngblood says:

    Thank you Beth, for your oh so timely words. My Pastor has been attacked so viciously and I think a link to this post on our church blog might help serve as a reminder.

  19. 19
    Leslie says:

    Ugh.
    And amen.
    Praying for the Warrens and all those suffering…and those who are thrown into confusion and conflict when they see God’s people — his true, dear servants — suffer.
    Grace, Lord. Give us grace. And be near.

  20. 20
    Margaret says:

    Amen!!

  21. 21
    Michelle says:

    Thank you Beth for the courage to speak out against bullying, especially in the church. A group of us serving as leaders in our church were on the receiving side of bullying in the last few years and when it comes from those in the body of Christ,there’s NOTHING more painful! The words you spoke need to be heard and it needs to stop! It comes from the enemy of our soul who attempts to split the unity of those who love and serve Jesus. I am also sick of it, but praise God for His healing and the wisdom to uncover the source. Thank you Beth for ministering to women. I have just finished a study of yours with my small group and we were blessed. Keep on keeping on in Jesus!! We love you!

  22. 22
    Angie says:

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I truly needed to be reminded of this. Our church has been going through a critical season. I’m praying for healing and glory to God to come from it. I think we can get so caught up in the negative that we loose focus of what Jesus has done for us. Love one another should be our banner right under our proclamation of Jesus OurLord!! Thank you for your passion, Beth!

  23. 23
    Amanda says:

    Thank you. This truth needs to be spilled all over our hearts.

  24. 24
    Sarah says:

    Beth,

    Thank you so much for your heart this morning. My heart breaks greatly for the Warren family. I myself have suffered with depression and at times wanting to end my life and I know the battle that it is every day. It is only by the grace of God that I am still here.
    It saddens me as well to hear the things that other believers say. I don’t think we truly know the harm that the tongue can bring. May I be more mindful of the things that come out of my mouth. May the Holy Spirit stop me from speaking death but push me to speak life.
    Blessings to you!

  25. 25
    Gretchen says:

    Amen, Beth!

  26. 26
    Yvonne Donaldson says:

    Thank you. I’ve had similar thoughts ever since the election, and then with the marriage equality business. People have become so mean. With all of our “holiness,” we have lost kindness and grace and mercy.

  27. 27
    Bethany says:

    Thank you for sharing Beth. I appreciate your words as I try to wrap my mind around this terrible tragedy. I am glad that in the body of Christ we can pray for each other and I believe that prayer works. The Warren’s will be strengthened through the prayers of their brothers and sisters world-wide. It’s just a terrible tragedy though and my heart breaks for them.

  28. 28
    diana hendley says:

    Thank you so much for the post on the Warren family. I,too, cried tears for them as I thought of my own adult ‘children’. I especially appreciate that you addressed the issue of our Christian family attacking, criticizing etc. others. Our pastor, John Piper, received many attacks from these people when he invited Rick Warren to speak at his Desiring God Conference in a few years ago. I could not believe the words used in criticizing both of these Godly men – often from their own peers. Thank you again for your words and may we all be humbled in the grace that God has bestowed on us, through all things.

  29. 29
    shannon conner says:

    very well said.

  30. 30
    colette says:

    This hits so close to home for me! Friday night I cried my eyes out and got so mad at the devil too! I told my husband that I HATE the devil brcause we are dealing with a very similar situation as the Warrens, with our own son, and I refuse to let the devil win! But I am interceding daily for my son and fighting the good fight of Faith and then to hear the news on Saturday about their son was like a punch in the gut! I do not know them at all but my heart breaks for them too! I refuse to let my mind go there, but am going to fight all the more harder against the enemies ploys in mine and my families lives!! Jesus wins this battle no matter what!! Get under my feet devil! We have our armor of God on!

  31. 31
    Christy says:

    I agree with you, Beth. We put on the armor of God to fight this battle. I realized a few years ago that the armor of God covers what is in front of us and our brothers/sisters in Christ fight along side of us. But then what happens when we get hit in the back with “friendly fire”(which is an oxymoron)? We aren’t expecting that, it doesn’t help our fight and it wounds us. Why do we do this to each other? What good does it do? I pray whole-heartily for people in public ministry. It can be very lonely, I’m sure. I pray for the Warrens as they walk each new day

  32. 32
    Janna says:

    Thank you.
    Father, please help each of us, Your Children, to live out Your love.

    And please Lord Jesus, You who has been called a Man of Sorrows… acquainted with grief and suffering… and yet, the God of all comfort and peace… please hold, comfort and strengthen the Warren family in their deep pain.

  33. 33
    Georgia Fulenwider says:

    I too read the news on Saturday and my heart broke for them. Our sweet Rachel passed away almost 5 years in the same manner. It’s a difficult journey. But with HIM the journey has been amazing. Very early in my journey my prayer was that people would see grace, faith and most of all HIM. Anything less would be allowing the enemy to win. I too believe that the Warrens will shine even in their brokenness, they will keep the faith. Thank you Beth for your words of wisdom! God bless!

  34. 34
    Donna says:

    love better in THE NAME OF JESUS

  35. 35
    Kelli Moore says:

    Amen! Amen!! Amen!!!

  36. 36
    Rosalie says:

    Well said. Thank you

  37. 37
    Mary Jo says:

    Well stated Beth!

  38. 38
    Penni Van Horn says:

    …..and may we also say that personal/public grief is often served well with prayer, love sent gently, and a tender ear just to listen. True comfort, the kind that pulls one back from sitting alone in the fetal position for unending days, or withholds one’s body from a constant state of dry heave nausea- that comfort is CHRIST ALONE.
    Oh God, let us be a loving church.

  39. 39
    Nik says:

    So true. Thank you for being real, open, honest, and vulnerable. Blessed by your words.

  40. 40
    Jeanna says:

    Such wisdom. We lost an adult son (24) to suicide 5 years ago this past February. The love and faithfulness of God is all that helped us survive and is what sustains us. But, because of our sufferings we have been changed to be more like Jesus. So sad to hear of the Warren’s loss but knowing our great God will comfort them with the fullness of His grace. May we all be the hands and feet of Jesus and show His love instead of the hate the enemy so desires to inspire in us. Thanks for your words, Beth. Well said.

  41. 41
    Vicki says:

    Thank you for this powerful post, Beth. I have had some of these same thoughts over the past recent years, but haven’t expressed them as eloquently as you did. I am going to post a link to this post on my blog. It’s a message that needs spreading. Thank you!

  42. 42
    Teresa Tabb says:

    Well said, Beth!

  43. 43
    Carol Crabtree says:

    Amen, Beth. Amen. Well written.

  44. 44
    Pete says:

    Beautifully written, Beth. Particularly struck by this: “Life is hard enough without hatefulness rife in the Body of Christ. We are called to carry one another’s burdens, not pile relentlessly on top of them. ”

    It’s heartbraking to see the nastiness, and so difficult not to respond by throwing mud in return. A year or two ago one of our Pastors taught us about how our victory comes by having a different spirit. The more people who have that different spirit, and in this case that’s a spirit of care and love, the more we move towards overcoming the problem of disunity and attacks within the church. By not responding in kind, we’re showing a different spirit. Writing like this is a great encouragement to people to be that difference.

  45. 45
    Page La Rue says:

    Thank you for the well spoken reminder this morning, Beth. God bless you and your family.

  46. 46
    Elizabeth says:

    Amen and beautifully stated.

  47. 47

    Thank you for your words of wisdom.

  48. 48
    Mary McGonegle says:

    OH Beth I feel the same way! My heart is shattered with grief and yet I am so angry that the lie satan has going has so gripped our youth and young adults, and the Christian community is not immune. I worked many years in youth ministry at my church, we live in a large metropolitan area and one thing that we know for certain is when one student commits suicide it’s like an epidemic we would pray on our knees continually! just 2 short weeks ago one of my dear friends 17 year old son attempted this very thing but did not succeed! My heart wants to fix it, my personality is a fixer and I want to fix…but I know that only Christ Himself with the power of the Holy Spirit can fix this young mans heart!! Those flaming arrows satan hurls are right at the center of his weakest spot! I have been praying continually through bitter tears of anger! But, I know that my mighty GOD is bigger and better and loving and full of compassion and I cannot loose the faith, no matter how hard this life here becomes, I thank Him daily that this is not our home!
    Thank you for letting us share your grief and for giving us a place to share ours! We love you Beth and appreciate your honest feelings! The entire Christian community needs prayers after the enemy has taken ground…we all need to remember that he may take ground but he will never ever win the fight, because the battle is already WON Christ defeated the grave and nothing on earth and nothing in the spiritual realm will ever change what JESUS completed on the cross! Our Hope lies in HIM and in HIM alone!

  49. 49
    Jennifer says:

    Very wise words Beth! Thank you for them today. How sad it is that we kick our brother or sister when they are down. I’ve never personally lost a child, but I can’t imagine being much more down than in that kind of unimaginable pain!

    May we all heed your words here and seek to love each other well through the power of the One who has loved us first!

  50. 50

    Beth,
    I have always admired you and respected you! Today I am so thankful for your heart and your courage to write this. We needed to hear this. Thank you from the bottom of my wounded heart.

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