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. 301
    Cindy says:

    As I just finished day 5 of the 3rd week in your David study in 1 Samuel 25, we know that these bullies will be judged for the damage they are causing. Let us be like Abigail in that passage to thwart those mean and surly bullies. Lifting up the Warrens in prayer and hushing any slander is a great way to start.

    My heart weeps for all my friends who know and love the Warrens.
    Our prayers continue to be with you.

  2. 302
    Karen says:

    Thanking God for your courage to write this. I was appalled to read one of those horrible comments and if you can believe this, it was signed by a “pastor”. Unbelievable!

  3. 303
    Erin says:

    YES. THIS.

    Mrs. Beth, please. keep on keep on keep on. We adore you and love you.
    Thank you Lord for this woman who points to YOU and loves YOU.

  4. 304
    Ruth from North Idaho says:

    Amen, Beth…you are right! My pastor addressed this very thing In no uncertain terms Sunday morning, and I was so grateful.

  5. 305

    Well said, Beth! I appreciate you speaking out.

  6. 306
    Berni says:

    I still believe this:
    If we are not part of the solution, we are part of the problem. Thank you Beth for speaking what needed to be spoken to us all.

  7. 307
    Diane says:

    Well said Beth. I couldn’t agree with you more. We sometimes – some more than others – put those in the position of pastors, leaders, or teachers in a place where we expect them to be perfect. As if they are Jesus. They have been given the gift of teaching, however, they face the same attacks from the enemy and the say pain that other people face. They are not Jesus, they are just like anyone of us. It pains me that people would say such cruel or heartless things to them. The fact that this is coming from professed believers is the worst. My heart breaks for their family and my God doesn’t put “judgement” on people just to watch them suffer. That is not how God is. Lord I just pray for the Warren family. I know that you are grieving with them because you don’t like to see people hurting. I pray that they will feel the warmth of your love and will somehow be able to come to terms with the loss of their son. I pray that they will have the comfort of knowing that you welcomed their son with wide open arms, however, they were not ready to give him up. Heal their brokenness Father.

  8. 308

    My heart is also breaking. I have cried out to God to protect this precious family from careless words and hate. They have blessed my life in so many ways. I will continue to pray. Thanks for sharing this Beth! I will pass it along!

  9. 309
    Carol says:

    Beth, thank you so much for this! My heart goes out to the Warrens and the incredible loss in this way of their troubled child. We are to carry one another’s burdens and comfort. May the Lord put His loving arms around the Warrens and comfort them. After being a minister’s family–my sons got to the point where they wanted nothing to do with church and my younger son wants nothing to do with God because of the constant criticism and the way many people acted. My older son has come back to the Lord and I continue to pray for my younger son for the hurts he suffered to be healed.

  10. 310
    Ashley says:

    Yes ma’am…I like your feisty side.

  11. 311
    Carolyn C. says:

    Thank you, DEAR Beth, for this profound and strong, yet tender message. My husband took his own life nine years ago. I have known periods of deep depression since that day and have endured relentless attacks on my faith, especially this time of year (he died in May). Your words ministered deeply to my spirit and meant more than you can possibly know.

  12. 312
    Keri says:

    There cannot be too many Amens 🙂 Thank you, Beth.

  13. 313
    Wendy Gray says:

    Thank you so much for your words. My heart has ached along with you and everyone else for the Warren family today. I can relate to the feeling of losing a loved one to a tragedy, and it is a pain that cannot be put into words. I am so thankful for my Heavenly Father’s love that comforted me during that time and for the family of God that He placed around me. I remember sitting at home one day, and all of a sudden feeling so overwhelmed with this peaceful feeling. At first I became so confused, because I could not understand why I was feeling peace after my little sister had just been killed. I then realized for the first time that it was Jesus. I was feeling peace because I reached out to Him. I knew that if I tried to deal with this pain on my own, I would crumble and never be able to fully live again. I reached out to the one that my mother had shared with me, and He showed me that I could continue to live with Him. God responded in every way I needed during that time and He has never stopped. Beth, God has used you in my life over the past 13 years since my sister’s death. I thank you for helping me to study God’s word and learn how to break free from the guilt that could keep me from growing and living with Him. I love you my dear sister in Christ! Thank you again for your words today. We all needed to read them and be reminded. God bless you!


  14. 314
    Cndias says:

    Wow, Beth thank you for sharing from the heart. I pray the holy spirit will use this as a reminder to me each time I utter words that my words will be an encouragement to the ones they are spoken to. It is so hard to understand tragedy but praise God we have a savior who is more than able to carry us through and to be our rock. Praying for the Warrens, to know God’s love, His Peace, His faithfuness.

  15. 315

    Thank you so much for saying so well what has been gnawing at the hearts of many of us today!

  16. 316

    You really went through the wringer in your reactions to the death of Rick and Kay Warren’s son, Matthew. I know the Warrens and I knew Matthew. He was a warm, sweet, loving child and young man, and he suffered with mental illness. I refuse to give the enemy one bit of credit for the loss of Matthew. I am positive that even in Matthew’s darkest moments, that God never turned His back on Matthew. God’s Presence, even though Matthew could not sense it then, was with Matthew. Even in the darkest places God never loses His hold on us. It is horribly painful to lose a child. To have a child take his own life is the worst, in my own opinion. Our culture and medical system is just beginning to wake up to the reality and frequency of mental illness in our population. Insurance companies still do not cover the expenses adequately and much more research is needed into appropriate and effective treatments. Mental illness can be terribly destructive. The stress on a family can be tremendous. The Warrens have done everything possible for their son. Now they are devastated, but upheld by the prayers of so many and by the power of the Holy Spirit. I don’t know that the Warrens will come through this like gold. They are broken, in body, in their hearts. They have been broken before, but this is a gouging, wrenching breaking that is different than anything they have met before. They will minister from their brokenness. I know this. But, my heart is aching for them, for Matthew in his darkest hour, and for parents, children, families that deal with mental illness every day. There is a fear of not knowing what will happen next – of tragedy lurking. The Warrens have met the reality of the terror. They are coping through their strength in Christ, but the pain is vicious. Maybe one upside of this sad event is that light will be focused on mental illness and we will have new efforts, sensitive public, treatments, and even cures. And, the church can step forward to lead and to support in this effort. Families need resources and support. To wrap this up, I know that my redeemer lives, and that Matthew is in the Presence of God now. He is gold now. The Warrens, I have no doubt, will be gold when they meet Jesus, but now they are broken. They need the prayers of God’s family.

  17. 317
    Mary says:

    Thank you for writing this. I have not seen the criticism of the Warren’s. All I know is my heart is broken for them. I lost a 17 year old mildly autistic and bipolar son last May to suicide. I can not begin to describe the loss or the pain that I experienced and that the Warren’s are going through now. In all of this, I have known that my God is sovereign and He doesn’t make mistakes. In the year since I lost my son, I have learned so much about God’s sustaining grace in my life and His ability to bring beauty from ashes.

  18. 318
    Jason Wert says:

    Wow…this is absolutely perfect. God bless you.

  19. 319
    trevor says:

    As a pastor i cried when reading this. Your words have been what I have been feelin gand heart broken over. Jesus loved his people and his enemies. Sometimes I think Christians can be the most hateful people I know. It saddens me and sometimes discourages me as a pastor when I see so much hate coming from those who profess to love Jesus.
    james 3
    1Dear brothers and sisters,a not many of you should become teachers in the church, for we who teach will be judged more strictly. 2Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way.

    3We can make a large horse go wherever we want by means of a small bit in its mouth. 4And a small rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot chooses to go, even though the winds are strong. 5In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches.

    But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. 6And the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.b

    7People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, 8but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. 9Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. 10And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! 11Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water? 12Does a fig tree produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? No, and you can’t draw fresh water from a salty spring.c

  20. 320
    MotherLodeBeth says:

    My hope and prayer as a Christian is that ALL Christians will learn and grow from what the Warrens have been thru all these years of having a wonderful son who sadly suffered from serious mental health challenges.

    To me this is akin to having a child with any chronic illness that can drain parents in ways most people have no idea of. And how many churches have attendees or members who struggle daily with mental health challenges?

    Many churches have support groups for those with drug/alcohol issues, unwed pregnancies, widows/widowers. Few have support groups for families like the Warrens or for families with family members with chronic illnesses.

    Yes, its good to pray for healing. But what about praying for healing within our own churches in regard to supporting families like the Warrens and others?

  21. 321

    Rick Warren’s “Movie of Hope”
    In light of this weekend’s tragic news, the HOME RUN family asks for your prayers for the Warren family and the entire Saddleback community.

    Pastor Rick had already scheduled Saddleback’s past weekend services around ‘What to do on your worst day’ and an emphasis next weekend on using the HOME RUN movie as a real-time tool of hope for those needing healing for hurts, habits, and hang-ups. This tragedy is a sad reminder that our own churches and families are not immune to hurts, but also has steeled our team’s resolve and focus for this film’s message. We would ask that you consider joining our team in fasting and praying on Wednesday this week and next as we know that lives may hang in the balance that may see this movie on opening weekend.

    We have already seen some secular audiences respond to the hope in this story in such a positive way.

    Vivica A. Fox expressed to a reporter at our premiere in Tulsa last Thursday that she was going through a dark time personally while shooting HOME RUN. Her hotel was situated across from Tulsa’s “Praying Hands” landmark so every morning she’d look out her window and say “God you have me in the right place.” That message of hope has resonated and Vivica has been asked to be on many national news outlets in the next week.

    Also, we’ve been hearing from so many current and former MLB players about how much the movie impacted them; Dwight Evans, Bill Buckner, Ben Zobrist, Tim Salmon, Adam LaRoche, Jose Alvarez, and Brett Butler. We pray that more people, in and around the game of baseball, will be helped through this simple story.

    Thank you for your prayers for the Warren’s and for this film that was birthed out of their heart to see lives healed.

    Kyle R. Thompson
    National Outreach-HOME RUN
    In theaters April 19, 2013

  22. 322
    Angie R says:

    This is precisely what I felt when I heard of the news. It shows that we are still in long fight while we are here on earth, but the Lord Jesus promised that victory is already ours. Matthew Warren’s time to be with the Lord has come, and since God is Sovereign, He allowed that to happen—for a reason. And that reason, I believe will, unfold right before our very eyes in this generation….He is at work, we are all in progress… and He will be glorified in the end. Let us keep praying for all the Christians around the world, most especially the workers who have done so much for the harvest of the Lord. Yes, Satan can…but God is still in control, He is a Mighty Warrior, and the devil is a defeated being, just waiting for his sentence to be delivered. God bless Pastor Rick and Kay Warren.

  23. 323
    Aaron says:

    Very well said. God bless the Warrens.

  24. 324
    jedsam says:

    Wow!! Very well said!! God bless you you abundantly!! Still praying for the warren’s family!

  25. 325
    Mary Holladay Briner says:

    Thank you Beth, from the bottom of my heart for this! It really put into words the feelings I’ve been having in this tragedy. My husband pointed out a news story about the Warren’s son that chose to point out that the prayer Rick did at the inauguration was disliked by gay people because it called homosexual sin. Why talk about that in this story about their son? The world loves to strike people when they’re down.

  26. 326
    Kimmi whisner says:

    AMEN!!! God Bless You!!!

  27. 327
    Andy Gorman, Ghana says:

    Very heartfelt and perceptive blog, Beth. Come on America… This is a chance for the church to shine, not blacken.

  28. 328

    Thank you so much for this excellent blog! You are really touching on a very important issue in the church, and I hope a lot of people read this. By our love for one another people will now Christ!

  29. 329
    Michael Ann Iverson says:

    Beth, you are right and I love you. Lord help us love each other and see each other as you see us!

  30. 330
    Denise says:

    Beautifully stated~thank you Beth!!! Praying for peace and strength to all of God’s children in pain

  31. 331

    Thank you for this real, honest and insightful post, Beth, and putting the sadness and madness into words that encourage and remind us all of the bigger picture: let us love as Christ has loved us.

  32. 332
    Leah says:

    Amen and amen. Bless you and may God keep you, and all those who are gifted by The Lord to speak His Word with such truth, and shield you from the extra harm that comes your way from being in the public eye. I have the Warrens in my thoughts and prayers. May they only hear the kind and uplifting…and may the poison arrows bounce harmlessly off their shields of faith and trust in our Lord.

    Thank you for all you do for all of us, Beth!


  33. 333
    Sheridan Voysey says:

    Brilliant, heartfelt and necessary words, Beth.

  34. 334
    Sarah says:

    Well said… Amen!

  35. 335
    Julie Lyle says:

    My heart breaks for the family. While I’m not a public figure I experienced the pain of verbal abuse within days of the death of my husband. He was only 43 and died suddenly 5 months ago. I suppose those people needed someone to blame. Whatever the reason, it felt like more than I could bear. Am lifting the Warrens up in prayer and was on my knees praying this morning for them to be surrounded by angels. Much love to them!

  36. 336
    Andrea Sutton says:

    Thank you for sharing your heart. As a parent who has lost a child, I understand only too well, that your faith is what gets you through. Faith, hope and love and the greatest of these is love. To know that others within the body of Christ are making negative comments at such a time as this, is just beyond me, although I know it happens all too often, b/c of our humanness. People need to stop judging and start loving more…leave the judging to God, the ONE & ONLY JUDGE. I pray for the Warrens and look forward to reading their book about hope… sometimes it’s all we have to see us through. Keep pressing on…

  37. 337
    Jennet says:

    Thank you. Thank you.

  38. 338
    Pst peterside says:

    Thank you for speaking as the spirit directed you.I am a pastor with a very sick wife,and I understand what you are saying ,people that you expect to support you and speak life into your situation are the ones turning around to abandon you for there selfish desires,,some turn around to accuse you of sin that’s why your wife is sick,I want to thank God for your words today,that we are humans and the enemy will attack us as long aswe are in this body of flesh ,
    We will run this race and come out victorious on the other side.thanks Bert

  39. 339
    humnclay says:

    I believe those with the gift of mercy & compassion have difficult battles. Simply put, they truly empathize and feel the pain of all around them. And too, perhaps they are more sensitive to the short-comings of the body of Christ – and this is painful because it comes from a place that should be the one place of sanctuary. Please pray for all with the gifts of mercy & compassion. It’s a tough world.

  40. 340
    Warm in Alaska says:


  41. 341
    jino says:

    Well written. Thanks for sharing this. God bless you.

  42. 342
    Vicky says:

    Amen! Well said Beth.

  43. 343
    gina says:

    Thanks, Beth Moore, I love you ,you just dont know how you were the catalyst in rescuing me .,Ive been bullied all my life due to a disbility that noone knew about,not even me, taken advantaged of bec I never fight back…..but your books and devotional materials have been such big help.And your blog now still have that same effect upon me. YOu write it out of my heart and say it like it is without offending anyone. You are true to God’s heart. The only thing i see in this situation is that we should stand in the gap for Pastor Rick Warren and pray for strength for him at this time and hour. Weve all benefited from him so lets return that favor!

  44. 344
    Yonas Haile says:

    Thank you Beth for your beautiful encouraging words and may the lord’s grace abide on Warren’s family. The church is like Noah’s ark with a passengers like sheep and wolves.

  45. 345
    Laura says:

    Bravo Beth! Thank you for so eloquently putting in to words what many of us have had in our hearts for so long. Let’s be careful with one another indeed! My prayers go to the Warren family – I know how devastating suicide is and it is heart breaking to hear how mean words are making their pain even more acute.

  46. 346
    Cathy Allen says:

    So well written Beth ….so incredibly true -every part of this I feel and agree with – the anger the tears the sadness ALL OF IT …God help us indeed – but thank you for saying it and thank you for staying in it …Know one could ever understand the cost of ministry and the fight we find ourselves in -But for the grace of God. As a. Church we cried for the Warrens on Sunday and you’re right , they will come through this shining brighter than ever -What an incredible blessing to our generation – what a pouring out of life -into ours – I don’t know them but I love them and am forever grateful.
    Big love to you all

  47. 347
    Theresa A Thomas says:

    God Bless You Sister In Christ!!!
    And Amen!!! God never intended for the believers to suffer at the hands of other believers of God. An oxymoron that has plagued the kingdom of God far to long. Our strength lies in our unity with one another and satan knows if he can divide he can then conquer. I pray this piece sets the captives free. For we know He who is in Christ Jesus is free from all bondage of hate, envy, strife etc. all the characteristics of the prince of this world. Thank you for sharing your heart with us. I have many of your books and have been blessed by them. God Bless You Always!!!

  48. 348
    Karla H. says:


  49. 349
    Meli says:

    Couldn’t agree more, God bless! It’s exactly how i feel: God is confort,God is love!

  50. 350
    RaeLeen Bustin says:

    Thank you Beth for sharing this very timely and much needed word. I know that the Holy Spirit directed you in writing this. We all need to be reminded of this truth.

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