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.





735 Responses to “Sadness and Madness”

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  1. 451
    Annette Turner says:

    I wrote these same feelings in an essay poured out from my own heart and years of pain from the self-righteous judgements of the Body of Christ. I say amen and amen and gave that same quote from James~BRETHREN~IT SHOULD NOT BE! Lord God have mercy on us. My oldest son took his own life while serving in Iraq. His suffering was long ignored yet on the day of his funeral all rallied to our side. It broke our heart that the life crying out was not heard until it was wasted. You and I are not the only ones crying angry tears, Beth, our Lord Jesus Christ is as well. It angers Him and breaks His heart that we are so shallow and self consumed that we are missing the whole point. There are thousands upon hundreds of thousands hurting families being ripped apart everyday as we live and go about life in our pollyanna christian world. May God shake us up and wake us up to be HIS life poured out on a broken, grieving and hurting world whose only hope is CHRIST. I would love to share my essay with you…

  2. 452
    Lesley says:

    I am weeping….I pray that our Father with bind the tongues of those who would cause confusion and pain.

  3. 453

    WOW!! Beth, you are someone who I have been following for YEARS, and leading your bible studies, and I have to say, you have NO IDEA how much this bullying in the church has affected me and many of my most precious sisters in the body of Christ. I finally left church ministry because of it, and I am now ministering to my neighbors, and people in the world who are not in church. I am going out to them and loving them, and sharing Christ with them. My love for Christ has never diminished through all of this, but I must say after being a victim of this behavior 3 times, I finally realized God was calling me to minister outside of the church walls and make a difference there. The last time I was hurt, I walked into a staff person’s office where a group gossip session was going on against me, and I could hear what they were saying, 1 week before I was supposed to lead a Kay Arthur bible study there. I was devastated. These were LEADERS in the church, and it was like walking into a den of vipers. I had no recourse because they covered their tracks and got to the pastor before I could, making up stories about me, because in short, they did not want me leading a study. BUT GOD, being faithful to rescue, as He always does, had something else in mind for me anyway. He rescued my son, brought us to another church where my son is leading worship on guitar and voice every week, and He also showed me how to truly do ministry outside the walls of the church. He also brought an author along my path (who had been attending my Beth Moore bible studies) who encouraged me to write a book. I had been writing and blogging my pain for some time, and after this last incident, wrote a book and published it, called Mean Girls, Desperate Women: The Modern Epidemic of Unhappiness. My first book, not published yet is Mean Girls in the Church: Sabotage in the Sanctuary. I am now dedicated to the mission of stopping bullying, as I hear heartbreaking stories from way too many people, including little 7 and 8 year olds that I teach piano and voice to. Here is a link to my book if you are interested in reading it. The 2nd one will be more geared toward the church, the 1st one is for anyone who is tired of the spirit of MEAN.

    Thank you for being COURAGEOUS enough to speak out on this. What is brought to the LIGHT is what can finally begin to change. I get so tired of excuses being made for Christians, saying they are just human. Yes, they are not perfect, but Anyone who reads the Bible knows that there is no excuse for being MEAN and hateful. I call it the Spirit of Mean. We are commanded to LOVE if we are from God. In fact, as you know, 1st John says we are not born of God if we do not love. It is time to stop making excuses for this. Bullying and the spirit of Mean is of the Enemy. He is trying not just to wound, but to crush God’s anointed. We must bring this to the LIght and start dealing with it. Thank you Beth!!!! I love you in Christ,


  4. 454
    Crystal says:

    Beth, very well said. Thank you for taking the time to write what was on your heart. My prayers go out to the Warren family in what will probably be the toughest thing they go through as a family.

    Beth, you often make comments on Life Today and other venues where people make fun of you and say mean things about you. Every time you say that, I get so mad I want to hit someone. I pray that you know there are thousands of women like me who love you dearly and are grateful for you and praying for you. We love you so very much my sister.

  5. 455
    Beverly Kellett says:

    Beth, you have been an inspiration to me for a long time. The Warrens will be in my prayers for sure.My heart hurts for them.

  6. 456
    Kim Daigle says:

    Amen! This needed to be said! This was so well put. Everyone that claims to be a christian should hear these words. It is so easy to get caught up in todays society that we at times forget that we are to walk as Christ walks. He would have never bullied or slandered anyone. Love is the greatest gift of all! People should know that you are a God Loving Christian without you ever having to say one word! We need to pray every morning that God puts those in our path that need to be blessed and need to see his mercy and grace through us! God is a Awesome God!

  7. 457
    Carrie White Roden says:

    I am the child of a pastor of a large church. I am raising pastor’s children. I can’t tell you how this post echoes the cries of my heart the past few days. Continuing to pray for the Warren family.

  8. 458

    Thanks Beth. I needed to hear this.

  9. 459
    Rebecca says:

    I am guilty of so much. Forgive me, Father. And I am sad…because when the Warren Family awoke Sunday morning they woke up to lives and a family unit that will NEVER be the same. I am praying for them all.

  10. 460
    Joyce says:

    Your words were appreciated. I have gone through more in the last few years than you can believe. I lost my husband to lung cancer, my daughter to breast cancer, my son to a heart attack and my son in law to kidney failure. I now have CLL and have lost most of my hearing. I still have a smile and help everyone I can and they say I am a Blessing to them knowing what I have gone through and “Kept The Faith”

  11. 461
    Leslie says:

    Thank you, Beth! I do not believe that anyone could have put that more eloquently, than you! Although our pain isn’t as deep as the Warren’s, it is there . . . We are most likely losing our home the end of this month, I am job hunting and have been battling my 4th graders’ teacher, who has been bulling her! We ALL need reminders from time to time . . . Life is wonderful, however, it is difficult, no matter how we slice it! In the midst of the madness, we must remember how blessed we are, to focus on the beauty of God and all of His gifts . . . I have an amazing Christian therapist . . . She reminds me that when others are being mean/hateful, etc., we must return love and blessings to them! Of course, this is NOT easy and almost seems impossible, however, with God, ALL things are possible! Thank you for your words of enlightenment and encouragement! God bless!

  12. 462
    Maureen says:

    Thank you for sharing your wisdom and reminding me to live in God’s love.

  13. 463
    Kathy B says:

    Oh my! I didn’t know about this heartbreak until just now reading Beth’s post. All of a sudden my problems that seemed overwhelming 30 minutes ago are diminished by light years!

    So many of Beth’s words rang loud and clear. Especially the ones about being judgmental. I’ve been struggling with worry over what people will say when they hear about a decision my 19yr old son made recently– not an immoral one, mind you, just one that seems to lack foresight. I believe God has pointed out that I’m simply assuming folks will respond in the same vein that I would if the tables were turned. Isn’t that just sickening? Conviction seems stuck to my thoughts like gorilla glue! So I’m spending a lot of time confessing.

    Oh, and your words about the enemy coming after our children: Profoundly True! God graciously planted me right smack in the middle of “Believing God” at this time. How precious of Him to gently lead me through the familiar garden of scripture cards and remind me how to do what I’ve had the nerve to teach others: live and breath scripture! Pray it, Say it, Believe it! Lather, rinse, repeat!!

  14. 464
    kathy white says:

    Beth we had prayer for our missionaries yesterday and my heart was still heavy and saddened for the Warrens. I could not start prayer without reminding us there that they are hurting and its high time the Body of Christ ( I can understand the unbeliever) STOP kicking our wounded ! Thank you so much for your post and admonition. I prayed that many would have a Damascus experience form the LORD…” But why are you persecuting ME?” Let’ pray for all, we will need each other greatly as the DAY approaches.

    As we begin John the Beloved Disciple this pm….may we other His Words

  15. 465
    Dana Pizzo says:

    Thank you Beth. Your article may not stop the bullies but for those of us who read it may make us examine our own words and thoughts. I know I did. So thank you for making me think about loving like Jesus does.

  16. 466
    Donna Garvin says:

    Beth, Thank you for your post. When I first heard the news, I knew where the hearts of the Warren’s were and my heart broke for them because I relived my own pain of a few years ago when I lost my only child (22 yr. old son) to suicide. The devil is vicious and he will do anything to get our focus off Jesus even by going through our children. NO, it is not right and now I can be with you on being VERY angry at the devil for sending that last fiery dart that took the life of my son. But I know because of the saving grace and the work Jesus did on the cross, I will see my son again and so will the Warren’s. Thank you, again, for this post and for having compassion for those of us that have lost our children. Love you, sweet one.

  17. 467
    Cindy Finley says:

    Beth, thank you for this! Thank you for calling it like it is, and for calling the Bride up.

  18. 468
    Patricia Boyer says:

    Thank you, Beth, for telling in a kind way, the truth. Your well articulated words help still my hurting heart for the Warren’s. May God wrap them in His arms of comfort at this tragic time.

    Amen Amen

  19. 469
    Kerry Heurlin says:

    Dearest Beth,
    I feel that you have “walked with me” as I have grown and been nurtured and pruned by God through your bible studies. I echo your comments, your heartbreak and your anger over the pain caused by so many words from believers and non-believers over this tragedy the Warren’s are going through. Thank you for your perspective and your clarity of words. God bless you!

  20. 470
    teepee says:

    Thank you, Beth…this message needs to circulate throughout the entire Body of Christ. You said it well, my siesta! Love you.

  21. 471
    Jacquie Burian says:

    Beth – thank you for speaking truth and how I wish these words have been spoken before! You taught about the dangers of becoming cynical in your James study. Well, this is why it happens. As one who personally has been shot by their own, it’s hard not to be bitten by the cynical snake. The Warrens are amazing people who don’t deserve this. Being on the front lines shouldn’t mean its okay to be hit by “friendly” fire. I pray The Lord raises up for them an overflowing amount of support and that they are shielded from bitterness. I love you Beth! God has used you in mighty ways in my life. Thank you for coming to their defense.

  22. 472
    Elaine says:

    Thank you so much, Beth, for your poignant thoughts — they are exactly what so many of us have been thinking and feeling. Sweet, loving Matthew IS in the Presence of God now and free from the unimaginable pain only God understands. Please keep standing bold and proclaiming God’s truth. Love you.
    (A Saddleback member).

  23. 473
    Staci Sweet says:

    Ms. Beth, thank you! His death caused me to begin to write about my battle with depression which I now know was caused by me trying to be ‘deep’ and ‘spiritual’; which I now call ‘deep-pression’. Thank you for your indignant anger. I stand beside you woman of God. If only Matthew knew that he’d touched the life of a black woman in the hood with his!

  24. 474
    Lisa Croteau says:

    Once again you have gone straight to the heart of God, thank you for being Bold for being an example to me and thousands if not millions of women and Christians out there – I so agree with you, and have longed to share this sentiment, as one of those who have been hurt by my inperfections seen by my fellow Christians as failing in non-perfect areas of my life and my childrens lives, oh but I long to be like Jesus, i love you sister in Christ, please keep being Bold, I’m lifting up the Warren family and yours – much love – Lisa

  25. 475
    Cindi says:

    I am so glad you have addressed this! Not only for the Warrens sake, but for all of us. As a pastors wife, and having been on the receiving end of my share of gossip, slander and ugly emails, it breaks my heart for the body of Christ. If no one stand up and says “that’s enough”, it will only continue. Thank you!

  26. 476
    Debby says:

    Thank you, Beth. I know this kind of pain you speak of. I also know the victory of continueing my faith in a faithful God. May we be able to speak the truth of our pain that God may heal many through it! Gods continued blessing on your ministry and the ministry of the Warrens.

  27. 477
    Wendy S says:

    Thank you Beth for taking the time to put into words what has needed to be said for a very long time. May we, the church, hear with open ears and respond accordingly. May God continue to use you and your heart for the Lord in mighty ways for years to come!

  28. 478
    Shirley says:

    Amem. Estou apoiando e expresso o mesmo sentimento desse desabafo. Aleluias.

  29. 479

    You preach!

    The Lord knows those who are His so I say “Amen” to your declaration that the Warrens will “keep the faith”, because there IS a balm in Gilead!

  30. 480
    Anita Martin says:

    My step-father was such a kind, generous, giving, intelligent person, and yet his demon, manic-depression, finally took its toll, and he took his own life. It was so sad, and such a terrible loss of a much-valued, much-loved life. I’m not certain how our God views these tragic events, but I choose to believe He has a special place in His heart for these, His beloved, and ill, children. Praying for the Warrens during this painful journey.

  31. 481
    Doll says:

    Spot on. I know the Warrens and have had the privilege of serving with them at Saddleback. The next to the last paragraph in your blog rings very true, “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.”

  32. 482
    sharon says:

    Thank you Beth for letting us know what is going on. Our Pastor put the Warren family on our prayer list, but I did not know what happened. Loved Rick Warrens book, The Purpose Driven Life, ministered to me in so many ways. May we as Christians All be angry. Thank You again Beth, and as always very well said. Love You So Much!

  33. 483
    Luzsa says:

    Thank you for this reminder to be shared. It is all so true. Blessings to you and your family.

  34. 484
    Debra says:

    Thank you for this! I could certainly relate.

    We are going thru a very public personal struggle with our adult son.

    Sometimes I feel condemned and beat up by Christians and church leaders that say “don’t focus on your problems and they will go away” or “my child would not do that”

    Other times I feel abandoned by them if I am not part of their program.

    Reading their facebook posts makes me feel worse most times. Why don’t Christians try to encourage and inspire others instead of beating them up?

  35. 485
    Joyce says:

    I lost my 20-year-old son to suicide 20 years ago! There are no words to describe the pain & agony. My prayer is for acceptance of the knowledge that no one could have done anything to change his decision.

  36. 486
    Nancy says:

    Thank you so much, Beth, for being brave enough to speak this truth. We must cherish one another. How Christ’s heart must break when we pick one another apart with so much hatefullness. It should not be. I pray that your words will plant a seed in many hearts to treat the Body of Christ with grace and mercy.

  37. 487
    Kendra says:

    Thank you for putting these thoughts to ‘paper’ Beth. I am half a world away and don’t look at the news much, but now I will be praying for this dear family. May love reign supreme in the body!

  38. 488
    Annette says:

    For such a time as this dear Beth!

  39. 489
    Jennwith2ns says:

    So well-said. When I heard about the Warrens’ son, I said to my husband, “You know what’s going to happen now? All the Christians that don’t like his brand of Christianity are going to get all hateful and ‘told you so’ about this.”

    I hate that I was right, and I hate that that wasn’t even a difficult prediction to make. But you’re right about the danger of becoming a hater myself. Thanks for the reminder.

  40. 490

    Thank you so much for saying all of this. I can’t tell you how personally I’ve poured out my life for The Lord to serve and at times whether it be fb or people in person or my church I feel more criticized, scrutinized, and jumped on more than l ever feel encouraged or loved and life can be so brutal even while I turn to The Lord and allow Him to use those wounds to draw me near. It amazes me that others would spew hate about the warrens during such a tragedy and then I remember satan has no heart. I am so grieved for them. I love you all.

  41. 491
    Michele says:

    Beth, this was so perfectly stated and brought tears streaming down my face. I feel for the Warrens and have been losing the faith for several months now. I am a Christian who suffers with depression and anxiety disorder and have shared with other Christians this personal pain only to several times have other Christians condemn me as not having enough faith or just quote scripture about not being anxious…I felt more defeated, misunderstood or isolated after these experiences and haven’t been to church in several months. Recently I read a Christian book called “Glorious Ruin, how suffering sets you free” by Tullian Tchividjian and he seems to get it! You are the best Beth, love you!

  42. 492
    Joanne says:

    Thank you for writing this. No I didn’t lose a son. But today I left my work in tears because I feel so bullied sometimes and don’t feel apart of the group. I’m a very strong women but I believe the work has finally broke me. I pray every morning that God will just change things and sometimes he does. I need to read what you said. I need to keep presevering and knowing that GOD IS WITH ME. Thanks for your genuieneness and openness.

    • 492.1
      cindy says:

      I went through bullying by women this past two years. It was extremely difficult. When I told Christian friends about it, I was dismissed and told I was acting weak. Bullying is very emotionally difficult. I only got through it by grace. I have found that christians desert each other in tough times. That’s because American church culture is twisted and not scriptural. We are not walking in love with one another. We set pastors, preachers, teachers up as gods, then sit back and destroy each other.

  43. 493
    Cindy says:

    I am so thankful you wrote this blog, as Christians, everything we say and do is in Jesus Name, and we have to remember that. And we have to think about how we reflect and represent Him. The Lost are watching and I want to truly portray Christ in every situation, please Lord help us.

  44. 494
    Kathleen Granger says:

    WEll said As usual. Yoou have are in my prayers. May God continue to bless you.:

  45. 495
    seble says:

    Godbless you Beth. Well said.

  46. 496
    Jennifer says:

    Amen and amen! I too was so angry at the enemy, he thinks he’s making a mockery of the purpose driven life. But like always he will be proven wrong…when more people receive the help and healing they need because of this tragedy. I really do love you Beth and have been SO blessed by your ministry! Thank you for speaking on this!

  47. 497
    Farah-Nomar Perez says:

    Wow. I’m in tears. Well said. God bless you sister.

  48. 498
    Sherry says:

    Thank you Beth for so eloquently saying what I have been feeling for the past few months. I see Christians attacking non Christians with such cruelty and hatred that I wonder where does it come from. And then Christians attacking even Christians … Such ugliness! Social networking has opened opportunities for lines to be drawn in the sand and its become a battleground for those who ‘think’ they have it all figured out to tell the rest of us exactly what they think of us. God help us to not join in but to allow God’s love to shine through more and more to a world that is being inundated with lies! May we also pray diligently for those who are doing His work in the public eye and for their families.

  49. 499
    Nancy Mulford says:

    Thank you, Beth, again for words well spoken from a heart of tenderness. My husband and I share your grief and sadness for the Warren’s. We have a daughter who is held captive by mental illness.

  50. 500

    Thank you. It’s about time said this, and not just because of the Warrens’ tragedy.

    Thank you.

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