“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” – Jesus, Matt. 5:4
Like so many people, I have been deeply affected upon hearing the story of Rick Warren’s son, Matthew, committing suicide. Rick Warren, in such an open and vulnerable way, shared an e-mail where he spoke about his brokenness. It was painful to read because death is always painful. I am reminded of a scene in Lord of the Rings (Two Towers) when King Theoden is at his son’s grave site and says “no parent should have to bury their child.” It is a reminder of the unspeakable anguish of what a parent feels when they lose a child.
In our culture, there is such a stigma about mental illness and suicide. These are the taboo topics that many in evangelical circles, or religious circles in general, don’t want to talk about. However, the more people don’t talk about it, the more people are forced to bear the pain alone. Losing a child is difficult (and that’s an understatement) but to heap feelings of shame and guilt on top of that doesn’t help. When someone dies from a terminal disease, we don’t deem their death as weakness or something that we must hide from others. Just because the illness happens in the brain does not make it less of an illness. I really hope and pray that our reaction to anyone’s death is one full of compassion and grief instead of sanctimonious platitudes of self-righteousness bereft of love and grace.
Death is devastating. As a Christian, it is but another reminder of the broken, fallen world that we live in. Death was not part of the original plan. It came as a result of sin. And so when we see it, our minds and our hearts are jolted back to the reality that the system is broken. While we long and yearn to see the day when there shall be no more death, that glorious day when God shall wipe away every tear from our eyes, we do not live in that dream just yet. Instead, we are thrust into living a nightmare that we cannot wake up from. And in this horrible place, we can do nothing but mourn. Mourn for the death of our loved one. Mourn for the sins of the world. Mourn for the life that is no more. Mourn for our broken dreams and shattered lives.
When we are humble enough to be honest with ourselves and with God, when we throw away our masks and in absolute nakedness present our whole selves to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the Bible says that He will comfort us. He will give us consolation. He will give us a peace which passes all understanding. We cannot forget that the Lover of our soul experienced the touch of death Himself. He knows Death rather intimately. But He also knows that Death will ultimately be swallowed up by His victory. On that day, we shall rejoice more fully. However, today, when the promise of life looks bleak, He is there to hold our hands and weep with us. The tears shall pour forth. The confusion will remain. And He will lovingly and graciously wrap His arms around us, and give us rest.
I hope and pray that we, as members of His body, would continue to lift up Rick Warren’s family in prayer. May He use us to be vessels of love, grace, and encouragement during such a time as this.