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. 51
    Heidi Toren says:

    Amen!!! Lord have mercy on us…All we have is Christ!

  2. 52
    Pam says:

    Amen, His is a gospel of grace. What was His last commandment? “My command is this: Love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.” (John 15:12-14)

    I am in a season of life where my faith in God is stronger and my relationship is going deeper but I am radically struggling with churches and Christians….in a broad sense. Where is the love? Let God be the judge. But I also understand, for 44 years as a believer I tried to believe He loved me and WOW, on January 9th, 2013 God did something and I finally KNOW it. It has radically changed how I love others, how I interact. To me this is the bottom line problem…not really knowing His love ourselves. So how can we love others well?

    Life is messy, we can’t put a relationship with God into the box of the theology of our own understanding. We can’t pound each other over the head when “life happens”. Can’t you just imagine the gentleness of His pure love when He spoke the truth to the woman at the well?

    “God help us find freedom to truly know that we are loved. We are Your beloved son/daughter, the one You pull under Your arm, close to Your chest to hear Your heart of love for us. In knowing His love, we can then love better. Too many of Your children are trying to believe that You do love them. Be our deliverer to KNOW securely that love.”
    Grace, love…teach us Your ways Father.

    • 52.1
      michelle says:

      Amen. We hurt for them. My husband has been recently called to shepherd a flock, we (leaders) are people too, with real hurts, real families, up and downs that need lifted up too. Praying for the Warren family.

  3. 53
    Patti says:

    Joining my prayers with yours for the Warrens; that as they sit in God’s Waiting Room, with a sign marked, “Pain,” their strength will be renewed. I’ve not had the privilege of meeting them nor you personally, but as you have, they too have served and led me well. Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted.
    Much Love,
    Patti Hayes

  4. 54
    Michelle says:

    Thank you for sharing your heart. I am convicted and I am ashamed to admit that I have been one of the “haters” towards fellow believers and didn’t even realize it. Most precious Father, forgive me.

    • 54.1
      Casey says:

      Oh Michelle you are forgiven!! You are blessed for responding to the conviction of the Holy Spirit, which is not meant to shame you but to make you more like Christ. Our precious Father is quick to forgive us. I will pray that you are quick to forgive yourself.

      In His Grace,

      P.S. You are not alone! I know I have struggled at times with “hating” on fellow believers that were not like me. John 13:34-35 changed my heart. May it do the same for you!

  5. 55
    Brandi says:

    heard and agreed.

  6. 56

    I’m having a lot of trouble (and cynicism) lately with just this thing, and I really needed to hear someone say it and acknowledge it. Thank you.

  7. 57
    Shari Franklin says:

    So true and so well versed. As a pastor’s wife, I can assuredly say that the greatest hurts we have suffered, while struggling within pain of our own already, has come from fellow Christians. It is unbelievable and unacceptable. Thank you for taking a stand for us all.

    • 57.1
      Linda W. says:

      These words are so very true. But I sadly have to point out that it is not just those in leadership who suffer such hurts from fellow Christians. Even more heartbreaking is when those UNDER leadership suffer hurt from the very leadership that is charged with shepherding them. In such cases, there is truly nowhere to turn, and so many who have been hurt this way simply slip away from the church, the very place that should be their shelter and support. So many lost and hurting brothers and sisters who have been so wounded by those who are supposed to love them that they wander the world sometimes the rest of their lives carrying that pain alone. Those in leadership, please do not let those in your care just disappear without a word….search them out. There is usually unmet pain and need there that could be healed if only someone would notice their absence.

  8. 58
    SHANNON says:

    Well said Beth. The same thoughts went through
    my mind as we all know how some have treated
    the Warrens and yet they continue to cling to Christ.

  9. 59
    diane says:

    I understand your anger, Beth. I’ve been a member of Saddleback church for 23 years and this has been the most pain our church body has experienced. The sadness for our pastor,for Kay, and their family is deep. I don’t know if you listened to Tom Holladay give the message this weekend, but I would recommend that you stream it. Tom spoke about our response to our heartbreak. What do we do? We weep with them, we don’t get bitter, encourage each other, look to the future, and attack evil. I think that’s what you are talking about, Beth. We are to attack the evil within us and exchange it for love and for service. We must know that Jesus defeated evil at the cross and resurrection. Thank you for praying for Rick and Kay…certainly every prayer matters.

  10. 60
    Jennifer Johnson says:

    Thank you for these words! Very well said. What Satan meant for evil, God WILL use for His Glory!! I know God will carve out space for them to grieve and heal and it will become nuggets of gold to our gain! Jesus will tend to their hearts as they surrender it over. Our God is faithful!!

  11. 61
    vanessa says:

    Great Post!! Very true!

  12. 62
    Nancy Holte says:

    Brilliantly said. I wish I had written this as you summed up my thoughts beautifully! Thank you!

  13. 63
    Chrisy says:

    I love you, Beth. Thank you for sharing what is on my heart this morning. My husband is also a pastor and we have a teenage daughter who is struggling right now. People have no idea sometimes of what we go through in ministry. I too am feeling really angry this morning and I didn’t really even know why, but reading your post totally resonates with me. I can put up with a lot, but seeing my child suffer for the sake of our ministry, I just can’t deal with it! God help us all who serve Him, and like you, I just pray we can keep the faith. Life really can beat you up and beat you down. I know God is greater, but my flesh is weak. My hope is only in Him, and I know it is the only hope for the Warrens too. Thanks for sharing this morning.

  14. 64
    Lisa says:

    Thank you for these words, Beth. I really needed them after an experience at church yesterday.

    And Lord, we lift up the Warren family. May they be comforted in this time with Your great love and peace.


  15. 65
    Margie by the Sea says:

    Yes, Beth, we can love each other better. Thank you for your words this morning.

  16. 66
    Judy says:

    Well said! I dream of living in a loving community and yet am all too aware of things I think, say or do that discourage that very thing. Please forgive us and change our hearts, Lord. Unite us in your love and work in us to put the needs of others before our own.

  17. 67
    Crissy says:

    Praying for the Warren family! Thank you for your honesty and leadership. Thankful that He is the same God today as He was yesterday and that He never changes! Oh how long will you wait Lord please hurry!

  18. 68

    Yes ma’am. Well said, Mrs. Beth…

  19. 69
    Christi says:

    I had a college professor commit suicide my freshman year and I attended a Christian university. It was so hard for us as students as we recounted final interactions and questioned “Should I have done more? Seen signs?” He called some of us before he died and told us he was proud of us and to work hard. At the time, I just thought it was an encouraging phone call from my favorite teacher. Little did I know, it was really his goodbye. That was 20 years ago. Any loss is extremely hard. Praying for overwhelming peace for all that need it in this situation.

  20. 70
    Alicia says:

    Amen and Amen!!

  21. 71
    Sister Lynn says:

    Dearest Beth,

    Yesterday we marked Divine Mercy Sunday … it seems such a fitting aspect of God to focus on at this time and more importantly to make manifest in our world today. We must be His mercy, His goodness, His kindness – Christ has no body now but ours that live in Him.

    Thank you for calling us to higher ground. love you so – S.Lynn

  22. 72
    Judy Mullins says:

    Amen sister! Thank you for speaking the truth and hopefully convicting thes who think their behavior is Christ-like, but realizing and repenting as it is not. We all pray and mourn for the Warrens and we too believe in our hearts that they will move forth and continue to run the race of keeping the faith.

  23. 73
    Cathy says:

    I think that is why Spurgeon says to remember our enemy is not divided! His purpose is clear and when we respond against our brother we just feed into his plan to keep us divided. A house divided against itself will not stand. We must love one another to face the battles of this life and our enemy.

    • 73.1
      Terre says:

      Thank you Beth for your post. Thank you Cathy for this thought from Spurgeon, he is my favorite devotional go to…I had not heard this one yet tho and needed to hear it on this day.

  24. 74
    Andrea says:

    Amen and amen. Thank you, Beth, for your honesty and love. I will stand with you against the enemy.

  25. 75
    Tiff says:

    Friends and I were enjoying the day together when we heard this news, and I immediately was angry. So angry at the enemy for continuing to mess with God’s people when he has already been defeated. For causing pain just because he is relentlessly against all that is good. And today my pain is more personal as we walk through a hard season with our teenage soon. A brilliant, sweet, God-fearing boy who recently made some dumb teenage mistakes, and because he is a good boy, he isn’t wily enough to do things in a way that he doesn’t get found out. He is now facing some of the hardest things in his life, really just for being immature, and it is gut-wrenching to watch his pain. And even harder to have to encourage him to do the right thing, knowing that it will only bring deeper consequences as he watches his peers “get by with,” in the worldly sense, so much more serious stuff, and knowing that he will be on the receiving end of some of the judgmental hatefulness you call out here. I have never wept for him such deep, painful tears, but I am forcing myself to believe, moment by moment, that God can and will use this for my son’s completeness and maturity. Praying that he will believe that as well and come through this “as gold” as well. Thank you, Beth!

  26. 76
    Melissa says:

    Thank you for this Beth. I am gulity far too often of being reckless with my words. Forgetting or simpy just not caring about the damage they can do. Thank you for your boldness and unashamed confrontation of this often overlooked sin that we all fall victim to in varying degrees. I am grateful for you words today.

  27. 77
    Vickie says:

    Well said Beth. It is such a grievous thing when the Body turns on itself.

    Broken hearted for the Warren’s.

  28. 78
    Joani says:

    Amen! Thank you! Love you!

  29. 79
    Amy says:

    Well said!! And thank you! Praying now for myself and all the Body of Christ to grow to “love one another” with exceeding grace.

  30. 80
    Mary says:

    Why? Why do we believe that we will look smarter, more holy, more righteous if we showcase that ‘other person’ as less than? It’s heartbreaking.

    Beth, your words echo my heart. The attacks on the Warrens at this time are just …. well, just outrageous! How can we say ‘I love Jesus’ and then speak such vile, hurtful words to a family in pain?

    I pray for this family as they walk this path of grief and suffering. I pray for God to pour out His amazing grace and peace over them. I pray for protection from the evil words and actions from the Christian community and from all others.

    Thank you for speaking out.

  31. 81
    Amy says:

    Preach it, Mrs. Beth.

  32. 82
    Alicia Roark says:

    Amen! I couldn’t have said it better myself.

    Alicia Roark

  33. 83
    Kay Martin says:

    Beth, As usual, so well said! Oh, that the body of Christ would love each other more!!

  34. 84
    Darlene says:

    So very, very true and sad.

  35. 85

    Thank you for these words Beth. I’ve felt the same thing…heard the slander. On a much smaller scale than you and the Warren’s, of course. But the pain is the same, whether the hurtful words come from one church family member or one thousand. In recent years I’ve come to realize that we (Christians) turn more people away from Christ with our attitudes and displays of “holier than thou” behavior, than the atheists.

  36. 86
    Elisabeth says:

    LOVE this! Very very much. You spoke my heart today. Thank you.

  37. 87
    Olivia says:

    3 years ago, I lost my beloved younger brother, my only sibling, took his own life. He was 28 and it came as an awful shock. Learning the Warrens’ tragic news this weekend brought back such a powerful array of emotions.

    My heart breaks for their loss. I am praying that God who has used this family so mightily will continue to uphold and sustain them, and that what the devil meant for harm, God will truly use for good.

    Suicide does result in people passing judgments; in this case some of the comments were sickening. Thank you for speaking out publicly against those who, whether knowingly or not, compound the agony of the grieving.

    I am glad to see all the overwhelmingly positive and loving messages of support from around the globe and pray that these will continue to carry the Warrens now and in the years to come. I know how grateful I am for those friends who to this day faithfully carry me in prayer and who offer practical support.

    Thanks for the reminder to fight for rather than against each other. Our very real enemy wants nothing more than the latter.

  38. 88
    Anna says:

    Oh Beth, how perfectly and wonderfully said. Thank you for speaking the truth that is on the tips of far too many of our tongues. Thank you for not stopping short due to fear.


  39. 89
    Leah Kiker says:

    Thanks Beth for the blog. I have been stepped on from a member of my church and I am feeling very betrayed and crushed by the person. This member had treated me as if she was my friend and I had opened up to her some of my personal secrets. Only to find out she doesn’t believe that I am a Christian. Your blog spoke to me this morning.

    I love you and your ministry.

  40. 90
    Carol says:

    Amen, Sweet Sister. There are so many nuggets of truth wrapped up in this post, I need to read it several times to glean them all. Bless you, Beth.
    And may the Lord grant peace and comfort to the Warrens.

  41. 91
    Amy Harman says:

    After a church meeting last night I left with these thoughts; people begin to assume you have no feelings when they’re only concerned with their own.

    How sad knowing this crippling thing within the body of Christ. How human we are and sinful we are.

    My heart goes out to the Warren family, and I pray in the name of Jesus for comfort and mercy, grace and hope. Mental illness is certainly not a joke, I’ve suffered it, barely endured it, and I half heartily chose my second, third, fourth, fifth…so on chances (I could have died as early as 9) and finally finally after 20 years of immense suffering, I accepted ALL of the redemption I already had. I no longer say “why can’t I just go home” as our dear brother in Christ had. I pray for an awakening in the body of Christ to reach out to these silent killers, these unseen illnesses, and we protect what is God’s.

  42. 92

    Thank you for saying these words. This seems to be my constant battle, the enemy going after my children. Just recently I experienced the same righteous anger against his wicked schemes against my second to youngest son. After wiping my tears, calming my mind and standing up from prayers….I said again as I have said before to the enemy “you get no more ground! God took it back and I am standing in your way!” (I AM A PRAYING MAMA)
    My heart aches for the Warrens and pray comfort and peace over their home!

  43. 93
    Lisa says:


  44. 94
    Sandra Deleon says:

    Sweet Beth, Your voice spoke great volume. We must rely on the Holy Spirit at all times without ceasing. Blessings to the Moore family.

  45. 95
    Joanna Swwartout says:

    Thanks Beth. well said, may God bless you and yours

  46. 96
    Sallye says:

    Thank you Beth

    May I ask that we not draw attention to the defeated one, but instead find ways to glorify God in this?

    Thank God that this child has been set free, we may not approve or like the way it was done. We are not the judge in this, God is, and this child is now in the loving arms of his Father, safe, held, and whole. To me that is reason enough to glorify God for His goodness, holiness, and eternal lovingkindness.

    The greatest gift we have to give is prayer. So spend it like there is no tomorrow.


  47. 97
    Casey says:

    Thank you for articulating what I have been struggling with all weekend. I am not ashamed of Christ one bit or ashamed to be called His. This weekend I was so hurt and angry and ashamed at being associated with the hate spewed in Jesus name.

    “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-45 (NIV)

  48. 98
  49. 99
    Kim Safina says:

    My Dear friend, Beth 🙂

    This morning, as I was sitting in the living room with Dave sipping tea and talking about the events of the weekend and today, my cell made a sound and showed there was a blog entry from you.

    I decided to read it since I was feeling sad & mad.

    I agree, “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.”

    This morning, we are attending the funeral of a 29 year old man who married the love of his life in December. He was loved in the community and brought joy to so many of us. Kyle had strengths & weaknesses, as we all do, but in our last conversation, we talked about seeking faith in God no matter what the devil puts in our path.
    He loved Christ Jesus, his family, his friends.

    My heart is heavy with the loss of Kyle and the loss of Matthew Warren, son of Rick & Kay.

    When tarnished & darkened by pain, anger and loss, I have found that forgiveness is the key. We must look for the Light in Christ Jesus.

    I asked myself
    How do you benefit as a Christian of this earth?

    Adhering to principles of Christianity means striving to keep love in all relationships, to concentrate on giving instead of taking, to try to be joyful, to have hope for the future. You can achieve all these things without a relationship with Christ and still gain all the benefits on earth. But what you lose is the potential for happiness in eternity. The message in the Bible & path to Christ is one of love, compassion, joy, understanding and a path through those is a path to Christ. Bring us up from the doldrums of life. Because nobody goes through life without sorrow, tragedy, pain.. that’s part of life.
    What matters to God is our hearts.

    LOVE is a verb!!! It’s written as a noun but should be a verb!
    If we want to find purpose in life.

    Christ Jesus said, I came to save the world, not condemn it.” John 3:17

    I want to be the Yeast in the bread.
    RISE UP & LOVE OTHERS in their time of need, sorrow, etc..

    As I attend the funeral, I will remember that
    In GOD we place our lives and look to only Him for Hope/Life/Joy/Peace and Healing.

    “Be Still ”
    With “Heaven Bound” Blessings,
    Kim Safina

    Thank you for your heartfelt words and sharing on this blog.

  50. 100
    Mary says:

    Yes we do need to learn how to love others better! I agree and need to make sure I am building other up and not tearing them down. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Love you Beth!

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