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Rick Warren sent the following email to the staff at Saddleback  Church this morning:

To my dear staff,

Over the past 33 years we’ve been together through every kind of crisis. Kay and I’ve been privileged to hold your hands as you faced a crisis or loss, stand with you at gravesides, and prayed for you when ill. Today, we need your prayer for us.

No words can express the anguished grief we feel right now. Our youngest son, Matthew, age 27, and a lifelong member of Saddleback, died today.

You who watched Matthew grow up knew he was an incredibly kind, gentle, and compassionate man. He had a brilliant intellect and a gift for sensing who was most in pain or most uncomfortable in a room. He’d then make a beeline to that person to engage and encourage them.

But only those closest knew that he struggled from birth with mental illness, dark holes of depression, and even suicidal thoughts. In spite of America’s best doctors, meds, counselors, and prayers for healing, the torture of mental illness never subsided. Today, after a fun evening together with Kay and me, in a momentary wave of despair at his home, he took his life.

Kay and I often marveled at his courage to keep moving in spite of relentless pain. I’ll never forget how, many years ago, after another approach had failed to give relief, Matthew said, “Dad, I know I’m going to heaven. Why can’t I just die and end this pain?” but he kept going for another decade.

Thank you for your love and prayers. We love you back.

Pastor Rick

Our heart and prayer is with this dear family in this season of unimaginable pain. Greg Laurie, who lost his 33-year-old son in 2008, shares perhaps all that can be said in moments like this:

At times like these, there really are no words, but there is the Word.

There is no manual, but there is Emmanuel.

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55 thoughts on “Praying for Rick and Kay Warren and Family”

  1. Tim Kerr says:

    I cannot imagine the pain they must feel. I wept when I read this. I am praying for them and for all those who loved him.

    “in all their affliction, he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them. In his love and in his pity he redeemed them; he lifted them and carried them all the days of old” Isa 63:9

  2. Ray Ortlund says:

    May the Lord be very near them.

  3. Jon Marq says:

    May God have mercy on them all.

  4. I cannot imagine the loss but I can feel for the circumstances in a particular way. My prayers and thoughts will be with their family.

    Jesus prayed, “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.”

  5. Deborah Perry says:

    Thank God I came across the article that would allow me to know about this precious soul was after reading I to am sadden as well. I pray that God will take the weight of the burden of loss from your family strengthen,comfort and provide you with peace beyond understanding as you accept the tragic loss of your dear son.

  6. Charlene T. says:

    As someone who knows firsthand what it is like to have a family member struggle with mental illness may God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ bless Rick Warren and his wife Kay and their family. May God – the great Physician – heal them. Our God is able to heal and I am a testament to His power to heal me completely of the emotional scars that are wrought by having a close family member struggle with mental illness. Our God is able!

    Love in Christ,

  7. Debbie Coggin says:

    God is with you. He will carry you through this most difficult of experiences. We went through it and lost our son when he was 31. God has delivered your son from his pain, and he will help you get through yours now too. Praying for you all.

  8. Louise Green says:

    I am praying for you all and for God’s comfort.

  9. Gurmit S Jassal says:

    God’s Peace pass all human understanding rest upon warren’s family.

  10. Jo Ann says:

    I am deeply saddened and my prayers, love and sympathy go your way. There are no words to say except just know you are all loved.

  11. marcia says:

    just wanted you to know i was praying that god would hold you close

  12. Pam Whitchurch says:

    My heart goes out to your family. You have my deepest sympathy. My prayers are with you all at this time of loss. My Our Lord wrap his loving arms around you. Love in Christ!

  13. Sending our love as part of the family of God. I’ve been there with my own family. Grace and peace on you all

  14. Dawn A. Hammontre says:

    My heart just aches for you and I am praying for your family that you would experience the loving arms of Jesus wrapped around you during this time of loss.

  15. Sarah says:

    Dear Warren Family,
    My most sincere condolences on the loss of your son. I know the kind of pain that he endured; I have also struggled with depression since I was twelve.
    Luckily, each time I sank into the darkness and pined for death, there was someone so dependent on me, that I could not take my own life. I feel that, if my life circumstances had been different, I would surely have ended the pain.
    I have been free of serious suicidal thoughts for a decade, and although I still suffer from depression, I have figured out a way to live functionally with it. Because of my illness, I believe that God has done much good through me. I have developped a deep sense of empathy for others, and I contribute to my family and my community in a way that, without depression, would not have been possible. When I am well, I value that precious time to experience joy while I can, and to increase the good in this world.
    Your son also sounds like he was blessed with a second helping of empathy, and his compassion was a poitive force in the lives of those around him.
    As difficult as it is to see the sense in this terrible tragedy, it may be that depression is God’s plan for some of us- the memory of despair enables us to show a depth of empathy for others that most people are not capable of. Please remember all of the love he gave when he was well; that is who he truly was.
    God gave him a heavy burden to bear, and now, He will wrap his loving arms around him in heaven.

    1. Becky says:

      Sarah, your comment both warmed and broke my heart at the same time. It reminded me of many great saints, that have already gone to be with the Lord, but who also suffered from deep depression. Their testimonies of how God used their depression sounds so similar to yours, much glory to God. May God continue to give you grace in the battle and grace upon grace to the Warren family.

  16. Tonia Hendrix says:

    I pray that God gives your family extra strength, peace, comfort, and love during this time. I am so very sorry for your loss.

    Tonia Hendrix

  17. chris mccormick says:

    Dear Rick warren family we will be praying for you and your family. May our God of comfort comfort you love chris

  18. Bridget says:

    May the love of Jesus surround all your family today .Words can not express what the family may be going through but the love of Jesus arms will hold you all.I do know ad understand alot of mental illness.With love in the body of Christ Bridget of Canada

  19. Praying for your hearts today. You are loved all over the world. May that knowledge bring you comfort.

  20. debra amidon says:

    Deepest Sympathy to the family!!!!!!!!

  21. christopher holt says:

    i am so sorry about your lost me and my family will be praying for you and your family……
    God bless
    Christopher Holt
    hurrican southern baptist church

  22. Lisa Koppelman says:

    I am so sorry for your loss…..I understand your son’s pain as I to struggle with those same demons….I try to explain to others when the depths of depression take over ….we don’t want to die, we just don’t want to live in the pain….it is trruly unbearable. Bless you all and may the stigma of depression be lifted so others can get the help they desperately need…in memory of your son and the son of God. Please God, heal this family’s hearts.

  23. Tammy Brown says:

    OH My heart goes out to you, I am crying for your loss. I too have a son that struggles with mental illness. Dear God please be with this dear family and show them love and compassion like you have never known before. They have reached so many people with your Word and care, now it’s time for us to show that we care. Bless them at this time of grief and sorrow with comfort. In christian love Tammy ((((HUGS))) :(

  24. Donna Schucker says:

    Such grief, such anguish…may you find comfort in the arms of Jesus and may your son now find peace and rest with Him. I have a daughter who suffers with major depression disorder. She struggles daily only Jesus can keep her safe from herself. My heartfelt prayers go out to you and your entire family.

  25. Flyaway says:

    I have heard of many young people taking their lives in the last 30 years. I weep over this tremendous loss and I weep for the tremendous pain that those left will suffer all the rest of their lives. I will keep praying that God will intervene and save and heal our young people and help those who have suffered such a loss to have relief, comfort, and peace in their pain. It is too much to bear.

  26. Sean Isaacs says:

    Today is a sad day for the Body of Christ. My heart goes out to Rick and his family! Nothing in this life can prepare a man or family for the loss of a child. A loss through suicide must be the worse thing in the world. Our prayers are with you!

  27. Anna Low says:

    To the Warren Family,
    Our deepest prayers are with your family. After losing two nephews at an early age, we know how this pain is so deep. You have shared with the world the greatest gift. We so appreciate all that you have shared and given to us. I want you to receive back from my family love during this hard and difficult time. Sending the most amazing love from our family and Jesus.
    Love, The Low Family

  28. Edward Campbell says:

    My heart goes to the Warren family. I work with people who struggle with both addiction and mental illness. I can only say that what I have seen in my field, is that of daily struggles and the courage to get through another day. My prayers to Jesus is that he too knows as to what we all go through. May he always be there to reach out for when we need it the most. My pastor along with many others share the Gospel that encourage us to keep in the faith and to live this life. For the Warren family please keep focus and never forget the gifts that will keep coming your way. God be with you during this trouble time.

  29. says:

    So sorry to hear your sad news , may the God of all comfort hold you all in the palm of His Loving Arms .

  30. Pastor Kirk and Sharon Heldreth says:

    May God give you the comfort and grace you need at this time.

  31. John Taylor says:

    Dear Warren family,

    There really are no words that can express what you are going through right now. We lost our beloved niece last year to suicide who also suffered from a mental disease. We are so sorry for your loss and will lift you up in prayer as you go through this terrible tragedy. May God bless you and keep you in this sorrowful time.

  32. Joy Headrick says:

    So very sorry. You are all in our prayers today. This is an illness that touches us all. A niece took her life in 2005 at the age of 18 and the family still grieves. Her parents seem angry at God. I pray you run to God, cling to Him and let his immeasurable love sustain you now. His tears fall along with yours. Joy Headrick, Denver, CO

  33. Teresa Bryant says:

    Pastor Rick and Kay,
    Your precious son is more alive than ever. He is feeling right at home in the presence of Jesus. Praying for you and your family.

  34. Pastor Don Jarrell says:

    My younger brother took exactly the same course of action after a similar battle for many years. It has been over 20 years and I still miss him every day but know he is with our loving Lord. My prayers go out for the entire Warren family and all who were affected by this tragic event. May the Lord bring comfort to you as only He can do. You are in our prayers.

  35. Karen Hume says:

    I am deeply saddened by the loss of your son. He is with the Lord now in heaven. He is not feeling the pain or evil he felt here on earth. He is with Jesus.
    But I cannot imagine what you are going through right now. Praying that the Lord will give you strength and peace during this trying time.

  36. Eva broseker says:

    My heart goes out to you. A parents never thinks to loose a child. I pray Jesus arms love surround all of you1 mat He pick you up and carry you all! Psalms 34 and Psalms 91 over you all!

    Love and PrayersEva Broseker

  37. Candy Townsend says:

    Bless you, dear Warren Family. My prayers are with you at this time of loss. God loves your precious son.

  38. Betty Fetzer says:

    Having had two family members suffering with mental illness and one being my husband at 38 leaving me with 3 daughters to raise, 15,11 and 4..30 years ago..
    I wanted to share that to say…God is a God of peace and comfort, He will see all of you thru it and if you let Him, He will use you to comfort others…Most certainly, you have my prayers in these days of questions, and healing…

  39. Sue says:

    Wow, even in this moment of extreme grief Pastor Rick’s concern is for others. Please keep his family in prayer.

  40. Scharell says:

    My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. My son had a mental illness also and struggled for years. I lost him last year in June. He was 37 years old. He got tired of the battle too.

  41. Eunie West says:

    My deepest sympathies to the Rick Warren Family~for their heart breaking loss!! It seems so many suffer from this horrific and debilitating illness… and when it ends this way~ OH DEAR GOD~ the grief is just so deep! I was told it’s many times worse when a family member takes their own life…because there is so many unanswered questions and regrets-so many woulda, coulda, shoulda’s! PLEASE…IN JESUS NAME…don’t go there!! You did what you could!! you LOVED and LOVED and LOVED some more!
    I pray that The Heavenly Father~ holds you all close to HIMSELF… and continues to comfort you all as you go through this very difficult time!! KEEP LOOKING TO JESUS! So much else is changing. Hold on to the CONSTANT!! He is the same yesterday, today and FOREVER!! and HE CARES when you weep! xoxoxo eunie
    (ps…years ago, while searching for THE TRUTH…i came across one of your (Rick) studies…and GOD revealed HIMSELF to me in such an intimate and beautiful way…I am still in AWE!! Thank-you from the bottom of my heart for your faithfulness in HIS ministry!!)

  42. Eileen hope says:

    We have a great big GOD! And I know our LORD met him in his pain. The pain of mental illness is so very hard to bear & impossible to understand. I praise GOD that this brave young man knew GOD, lived his faith, & helped others. He is with his Lord now, Father send your spirit to cover the harts & mind of his family & all who knew him. Your ways are not our ways LORD, and we do not understand,but through our faith we BELIVE & know that you are in control.

  43. Shirley Hickson says:

    My thoughts and prayers go out to you. I have a daughter that battles with depression and perscription pain medication. She too knows the Lord, her name is Shannon. So at a time when I have you in my prayers could you please put her in yours too. Thank you Shirley.

  44. Krista says:

    I don’t know you pain, but I know a parent’s love as I am the mom of four, I have one daughter who struggles with depression. My hope is that the Lord would comfort & strengthen you all as you walk in this valley. He knows.

  45. We are praying for you Pastor and Mrs. Rick! May God comfort you at this sad moment of loss! On behalf o the Chinese Aliance Churches i the US, we send you ur condolences!

  46. Michael.Doman says:

    I dont know. Except, in Jesus.I live in Cymru (wales).I have suffered but, not like you are.I know I am preaching to the converted.In all my problems. I see 2 things. Jesus is in the boat, with you. The storm ,will pass and, God will never forsake you
    O love that will not let me go,I rest my weary soul in thee.
    I give thee back the life I owe. That in thy oceans dept .
    Its flow,may richer,fuller be.
    May you find the courage. you son posessed. I wil pray

  47. I pray God’s peace for the Warrens and the deepening of joy in knowing the Lord and the resurrection is a certainty. May this be a call for us to learn how better to help people among us who suffer from clinical depression and other mood or mental disorders.

  48. Denise Embury says:

    Rick, Kay and Family
    I am sorry to hear of your loss. I have 2 children that suffer from Mental Illness and I understand how that plays a toll on our lives. I hope that your family is surrounded by lots of love and prayers. May god bless you :)

  49. Sandra Kluehe says:

    I am so sorry I lost my former husband to suicide 8 years this sept. I can only say I dont remember much of my life that year following his death. God was there for me every day and he is there for you too. It will get better. Grief share through one of our local churches was a true gift from God.God be with you all

  50. Rose Mary Thiel says:

    Your pain is our pain too. Every person who shares your pain and has compassion will take part of your burden and your pain will be lightened. I don’t know your family but we all share as part of God’s family. My sympathy for your loss and God heard your son’s prayers.

  51. Barbara Garrett says:

    I am so sorry for your loss. I know as a family of God, you know your son is in heaven and you will see him again. However, as a parent you must feel great pain and grief. I pray the Lord will wrap his arms around you and hold you through this difficult time. You have been such great encouragement to so many including me, I pray we can do the same for you right now.

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Justin Taylor, PhD

Justin Taylor is executive vice president of book publishing and book publisher for Crossway and blogs at Between Two Worlds. You can follow him on Twitter.

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