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. 251
    Paula says:

    Once again, Beth, you speak words that connect with my own heart. Over the past six months the enemy targeted my daughter and her family viciously. My heart has been broken. I have been staying with her and her girls helping with childcare and encouragement. While away, my church has been going through some of what you mentioned. I was home yesterday but I couldn’t bring myself to attend because my heart is so broken, I couldn’t bear to add one more wound.

    The depth of pain the Warrens must be experiencing only Jesus knows. I am thankful for many, including yourself, who have reached out with their words of compassion.

    Thank you Beth for naming the enemy’s schemes. It helps in this war we wage to identify our enemy. You have helped me to keep faith in the Body of Christ and I,too, believe that getting back to basics like love and kindness and gentleness would go a long way in defeating darkness and shining forth the light of Christ. Thank you Beth for sharing your heart

  2. 252
    Kristen Jorgensen says:

    I cannot agree more. We can love each other better – My heart aches for the Warren family and my prayers are with them. I can’t help but wonder what heartache their poor son felt and how many people could have loved him better. It starts very early in our society. I can’t help but think of my beautiful 9 year old daughter who got in the car last week and cried very real tears. When I asked her what was wrong she replied, “Mommy, I pray and pray that I could be as skinny as the other girls in my class. Why can’t I? I just want to be normal like them but it is so hard.” The pain in her little face, her honest prayer, and her belief that she is not normal was heartbreaking. I pulled the car over and we cried together. I told her how smart and beautiful she is, how God made us all different shapes, sizes and colors and that she is just who God made her to be. She is healthy, athletic (softball, basketball, and soccer are her favorite sports.) She is tall like her Daddy and will never be a tiny little person. Who and why does she feel like she should be different than who God made her to be? I wonder if the Warren’s son felt that he to was “not normal” and his Mom or Dad had a similar conversation with Him. God bless our children who suffer in a painful world and the Mother’s and Father’s who pray for them.

  3. 253

    Love this!!! This is such a great post, Beth!!!! Thank you so much!


  4. 254
    Becky says:

    Bless you! Amen and AMEN!!!!!!!! Praying for the Warren family. Praying for you and your family too! Press on!

  5. 255
    Teresa says:

    Thank you Beth! Your words are so very true and I thank you for saying them.

  6. 256
    Carolyn says:

    Thank you Beth for taking a stand on this. There is nothing more that I could add except as believers we better check our hearts before we speak.

  7. 257
    Michael Fear says:

    Excellent article. Thanks for writing that.

  8. 258
    Betty Hampton says:


  9. 259
    Salina says:

    Oh, my dear Beth. Thank you for sharing these words to us. Much love to you and amen.

  10. 260
    Kristi says:

    Dear dear Beth, thank you for your candid ministry. Thank you for your courage to be a voice of out there in the wild world. The Warrens need all of us believers with real similar lives sharing our outrage at satan’s attacks upon our children. It could just as well have been us that suffered this loss, yet it wouldn’t be on the news. I pray a covering of love and respect be poured out on the Warrens.
    You have appeared in my life as a wellspring when I needed it. I have never heard anyone who captures and expresses the very thoughts in my head like you. I don’t write to people I don’t know. God Bless and protect you and yours.
    Again thank you. Love to you sister.

  11. 261
    Beth says:

    My dear lady…..thank you for who you are in Christ. What you have allowed Him to do through you not only changed, but saved my life. Get Out of That Pit devotional literally saved my life several years ago. Thank you for being faithful, allowing God to work through you. You are such a blessing. Thank you for your words here. They are so very true and on point. Smooches and Squeezes!

  12. 262
    Shelia says:

    That was amazing, Beth. You are good at putting into words what some of the body of Christ is screaming. Our Pastor talked about this on Sunday. We wept and prayed too. We were very aware of His great Love.

  13. 263
    Barb says:

    Sweet Beth – you are so right: “Nothing tries our faith like the suffering of our children.”! Thank you for the reminder that destroying our faith is what the evil one is after!!!!! My heart breaks for the Warren family!! As for the bullies-well, I guess we need to be praying-that the enemy cannot use them & the Holy Spirit will convict them at this time – as well as surround the Warrens with a wall of ‘beyond understanding’ protection & GRACE!

  14. 264
    Tammy Davis says:

    I battle with severe depression daily, and have an older child that does as well. I have been through many difficult things but depression is the HARDEST and the LONELIEST by far! I have been shunned, forgotten, condemned, told I have no faith, and told to “just snap out of it.” If only it were that easy. When these things come from other Christians, family members, and friends (the ones you believe love you), it creates an even deeper hole in your heart and the despair grips you tight to where you feel there is no where to go.
    THANK YOU for calling this what it is…BULLYING! Now if all would just take note, listen to those hurting, and love them unconditionally, it would help.
    THANKS for bringing it to the open. I, for one appreciate it, and hope it gets better!

  15. 265
    Maureen Chabot says:

    Oh sweet sister! Your message was/is timely and right on in it’s truth!! Nothing more needs to be said except I so love Jesus and His people and am grateful for the hope we have in all the uncertainties of this life through the one Who is carrying the Warren’s through this tragic time. Praying for the Peace of Christ to carry you through!!

  16. 266
    Jacquelyn B says:

    Thank you so much Beth for your post. My home church is Saddleback and my family has been so richly blessed by Pastor Rick & Kay. When I got his email Saturday, we all fell to our knees. We were so terribly sad for the Warren’s but also scared. Scared to be the christians God has called us to be. Scared to move forward and change the world for our faith. Scared that at any moment our children will be targeted by the enemy.

    I am in bible college and I wanted to immediately quit and hide my family away. I just didn’t know if I could put my babies on the alter. After service on Sunday Pastor Tom, Rick’s BIL said, “Fight the Enemy.” I decided then, I would.

    Thank you again for your encouragement and reminding me that greater is He that is in me, that is He that is in the world.

  17. 267
    Elaine says:

    People are mean and it is one of the reasons I am not connected to Facebook, Twitter, or anything else (other than reading this blog because I know it will edify my spirit and make me laugh). The problem is people have come to believe that every single thought they have needs to be expressed to as many people as possible without considering who it may hurt. It is hateful, but mainly it is self-centered and thoughtless. With the prevalence of electronic communication, we have forgotten that we are reaching living, breathing, feeling people.

    Praise God, I don’t know what was said about the Warrens that spurred on this post but thank you. You have expressed what I have felt for a very long time.

    Praying for their loss.

  18. 268
    Kathleen Cantwell says:

    Dear Beth,

    Though I am certain it was not easy to publish your admonishment, it was necessary, because of t the platform you have. It resonates deep and wide. Thank you. I have been in ministry to youth and women for 32 years, and in the past few years I have observed exactly what you spoke to. The evil one is going after faithful leaders in crazy ways. We have seen it time and again. It’s brutal, and yet God is faithful so that we persevere. Our community has experienced this hard and frequent in the past couple of years with some strong pillars in our community, people I never thought would give up. Leaders are leaving church, having affairs, having their families taken out. Add to that the bullying via social media and it has become so difficult for saints to stand. They are tired. I am tired, often feeling like I am simply encouraging others to hang on to Jesus just another day.

    I am training in biblical counseling and have come to see that practicing forgiveness trumps morality, simple kindness is difficult for people. And you are correct in saying that people will seek even a negative take just so that they steal someone’s platform. It is gut wrenching. My son has two more years of public school and though we started out in public school in order to be light in darkness, some days I am crawling to the finish line.

    And yet, I know my God is great! He wins, and He has called us to keep the faith. My favorite verse is that of Paul in II Tim 4:7-8. The History Channel’s film “The Bible” was not completely accurate and for sure incomplete, but, I really loved most of it, but especially the last episode. To see the character of Paul saying the words, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith,” was powerful. He was tired, beaten, remorseful beyond words, facing death and yet knew what was a ahead. THE PRIZE was the crown of righteousness, awarded by the Lord himself. NO MORE struggle with sin. Life for the disciples did not look like what they’d pictured, but for love of Christ they followed. So we follow, as Paul, herald, apostle, teacher. One day, one person, one conversation, one email, one blog, one tweet, one post at a time. And we do not loose heart knowing that our brothers and sisters are suffering in the same way.

    It’s time for leaders to anchor, stay strong, be alert, confess, repent, forgive, then go teach others to obey. Love well, the time is short. Let’s love the Warrens well, my heart grieved when I heard the news. Broken for the loss of their son, saddened for what I knew they’d face from other Believers.

    Beth, you said a phrase in SF Deeper Still a few years back which I’ve held on to. “God has me on a key chain.” I want to be that close so that I can keep the faith and encourage others.

    Would love to have dialogue about some specifics on the leadership issue, specific to leadership in my area. Is there a venue?

    Practice is almost over… Hangeth thou in there sisters!

    Much love,

    Kathleen from NM

  19. 269

    My husband and I spent the first years as Believers with bullies. They still stalk me on social media and shun us in public. The good news is that we were set free from that.

    So hurt for the Warrens loss. I just appreciate your heart and the example of mourning with those who mourn.

  20. 270
    Kevin says:

    My sentiments exactly. I really just can’t read some of the comments on Facebook, etc. because it infuriates me.

  21. 271
    Deanna tipton says:


  22. 272
    Roshunda N says:

    Thank you for saying what so many of us feel.

  23. 273
    Renee Bartley says:

    Thank you, Beth, for the beautiful reminder of what the Body of Christ should be like. So often we try to elevate ourselves at the expense of others- bullying! We don’t have to agree with others on every point, but we are called to love as Christ loved us. What a quality for which we should strive!

  24. 274
    MomaD says:

    Love this….. I have battled with clinical depression for 13 years. Contrary to what I was taught as a child in church and my parents still preach, I would like to think I would still meet them in Heaven “IF”….
    Some days the dark can be darker than others but it doesn’t mean I’m loved less by my living Saviour. I cry out DESPERATELY to him in moments like these. I truly do.

  25. 275
    Brenda Parris says:

    Thank you, Beth, for articulating the very thing my heart has been screaming for so long. I can always find strength in your words. Thank you for being God’s instrument of peace.

  26. 276

    Thank you Beth. I was not aware there have been slanderous things said. That is tragic! I met Rick once as he was instrumental in helping our churhc establish a Celebrate Recovery program. He was a sweetheart of a man full of generosity and good will. Like you, I was crushed with the news of their loss. My son struggles to with autism and the truth that sometimes hurt that does not stop becomes to much to bear is so sad to hear. My heart and prayers have and will continue to be lifted up for the Warren’s and who knew Matthew. God will ultimately shine even in this tragedy but I trust that the Warren’s pain will eventually become bearable and redeemed.

  27. 277
    Demaroge says:

    I did not find a personal address for the Warrens. However, here is the address to their church. I plan on sending them a card full of love and sympathy.

    Saddleback Church
    1 Saddleback Pkwy
    Lake Forest CA 92630

  28. 278
    Cindy says:

    In the next couple of weeks, our family will be remembering the death of my nephew who also took his own life three years ago. I have experienced first hand the pain and sorrow from this type of tragedy. It is a shattering and faith-shaking experience. What is needed so desperately by the family is all the prayer and love that can be received. We all have pain in our lives, but I honestly can say there has never been anything I have personally witnessed to compare to this type of pain and suffering the parents and siblings of the lost loved one will initially endure and continue to endure for many days, months, and years to come. I look at my sister and brother-in-law and wonder if I could face each new morning the way they must. Please pray for the Warren Family earnestly and deliberately each morning. Also, please pray for the Atkinson Family that God will continue to give strength each day. Thank you, Beth, for your service to us.

  29. 279
    Sally J says:

    Dear Beth,
    we sat last night at our home church and listened to a sermon from Graham Shearer a pastor from Ireland. He spoke on James 4:11 and trying to tame the tongue. We all need to think before we speak and then speak only words that are encouraging and uplifting. the hardest thing to do is control the tongue, may we pray before we speak and not judge our brothers and sisters but pray for them. Our prayers go out to the Warren family, they are a member of the body of Christ and need our compassion and support.

  30. 280
    Janie Richard says:

    Amen and Amen!!!!!!!!!

  31. 281

    I blogged about the Warrens today. I pray that I in no way participated in anything demeaning toward them. I am grieving with them. I am hurting with them. This hits home for me, hard. As someone who has experienced being at the brink through being bipolar, I am tired and angry of this illness winning! I am tired and angry that the subject is swept under rugs. I want things to change. But right now, I am hurting.

  32. 282
    Sheryl Schlosser says:

    Thank you! That’s all. Just thank you.

  33. 283
    Bonnie says:

    Thank you for saying what surely needs to be said…we must truly be careful with one another. Our Lord said we will be known for our love for one another and given the heart wreck of this sadness we have the opportunity to truly pray, care and demonstrate our love.

  34. 284
    Jan says:

    dear beth, i’ve heard and seen atan lurking about saying your no good, felt so horrible i
    thought it would not matter to anyone if i left this world. By the grace of god, a praying mother, i made it out of that dark world and realized what it would matter if i left this world. This week with Councillor i sealed up that door the devil entered when i was kid and sealed it up with holy spirit duct tape satan cannot even breath thru this door. Suicide kills those left behind.
    please all love all those with sadness in their life, pray for them. God will intervene.
    my heart hurts for the warren family i’m sorry their son felt he had to leave our world so early.

  35. 285
    Caryn says:

    One day, idle tongues will have to give account. You’re probably “preaching to the choir” here Beth, but thank you for speaking out against a truly awful, thoughtless act.
    We speak blessing in the name of Jesus over the Warren family and all who know this pain too well.

  36. 286
    Tasha says:

    Well stated.

    I can speak from personal experience that we can be awfully mean within the body. My husband and I had to file bankruptcy about 7 years ago mostly from medical debt that was created while my husband was a minister. We repaid the debt while people scoffed and murmured behind our backs to friends or family members. We made it through until 2011 my husband was unable to work due to health issues. We lived on savings but it was not enough to sustain us. We had to choose whether to buy groceries and keep the lights on or pay the mortgage. We got behind on our mortgage and now are facing foreclosure. All the while the people we thought loved us are talking about us and ridiculing us. Not one of them offered to help us in any way form or fashion. We desperately needed prayer above anything else and still do. The Lord has sustained us. We have felt very alone in this situation. Very condemned. I struggle with the thought that we are unusable now. I know that is not true. I know my worth comes from Him alone. But the enemy is screaming the lies and the body echoes them. It is hard!!!!

  37. 287
    Jamie in Katy says:

    Amen & amen, Beth! Jesus said that the world would know that we are His disciples by our love. Thank you for sharing your heart. I’m joining in prayer with you for the Warren family.

  38. 288
    Robin Liebe says:

    Right on!

  39. 289
    2bluemom says:

    Oh, Beth … amen. Amen to every word of this.

  40. 290
    Sarah says:

    Amen & Amen!!!!!

  41. 291
    Barbara says:

    I was very moved by your words “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 find this so true in my life, you can do anything you want to me, but when my children are attacked, that’s a pain beyond all others. Your words grately encouraged me. Thank you

  42. 292
    Nora says:

    So true. We do need to love those suffering, to support them, encourage them, let them cry, not judge them, and seek to understand them. Mental illness is just that…it’s an illness. It’s not well understood, the brain is so complex, and it is not easy to treat. It can be a very isolating place to be when a family member has mental illness. Reach out to these families…trust me their hearts are broken and they need compassion and love.

  43. 293
    Jennifer T says:

    Was just finishing up a Bible Study lesson LATE (why do I do that?) and read Hebrews 3:13

    But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.

    The verse reminded me of your passionate and tender post. What would our world look like if we did choose to encourage each other daily – to LOVE BETTER as you said? Start here. Search me and know my heart, Lord…

  44. 294
    Dionna says:

    Every word was beautiful. And needed. I know you know well what you speak of.

  45. 295
    Heather ODonnell says:

    It’s easy to forget that the only opinion that matters is God’s. Thank you for your reminder of that and your perfectly sound display of what it means to be truly righteously angered. Break my heart for what breaks yours, Father.

  46. 296
    June says:

    Beth, Thank you for your kind and wise words. I too read some very unkind words towards this hurting family and it pained me. I felt like lashing out but you said it better than I could. I don’t understand why some folks are so mean spirited and it is wrong and hurtful to the entire body of Christ. Bless you!

  47. 297
    Pamela Payne says:

    I will pray for the Warren’s Unimaginable pain. Thank you for writing this and for your honesty. It all needs to be said.

  48. 298
    jennybc says:

    the older i get, the more the old adage is true. “if you can’t say something nice, best to not speak at all.” it’s not that there is never a time for correction, but it should be done one on one, in private. i have a personal policy to not post anything unkind on facebook, i can just quietly disagree or ignore the post. it serves no good for us to tear each other down and it only gives the one seeking to see Jesus in us an image that no more looks like Jesus than the man in the moon. yes indeed, we can love each other better. let’s get about doing it.

  49. 299
    sweet anonymous says:

    Amen and amen! On Saturday night I heard a co-worker trash talking the Warren’s after hearing about this tragedy. I was like are you kidding me?! Can you imagine how much pain they are in right now?!
    I have been praying for them since I heard. Today I spent more time in my counselor’s office and part of it I was sobbing so hard as the grief for my best friend who was murdered washed over me that I felt like I was drowning in pain. I pray that the heavens will be flooded with prayers for the Warrens. When they feel like they are drowning in sorrow, may they feel a strong hand up in prayer and may it drown out all the trash talk.

  50. 300
    Patti reavis says:


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