Are you in secret pain? Many people with mental illness (MI) are. That includes Rick Warren’s son, Matthew. His suicide thrust the famous author (of The Purpose-Driven Life) and his wife into deep despair and grief. Pastor Rick Warren and his wife, Kay shared their painful story in a CNN interview with Piers Morgan.
That interview took place about a year ago, only five months after their son shot himself. Rick and Kay have mounted a campaign to raise awareness of MI. They’ve designated October 10th as World Mental Health Day. Listen to them talk about their reasons for offering the free online event. You’ll find that you’re not alone. They understand your pain. Just like Jesus.
Visit Kay’s site to find out more about their ‘24 hours of hope’ which they will host in two days on October 10th. You may or may not have lost a child to suicide. But if your child has MI you’re experiencing grief nonetheless. World Mental Health Day will offer you encouragement and hope. Lord willing, you’ll also find more healing as well.
It’s easy to laugh with the comedian, but hard to understand the man: Robin Williams. He was gregarious on the outside, yet tortured on the inside. Why was it such a shock when he committed suicide? He openly revealed his mental illness (MI). The news stunned us because he hid it so well.
The Bible tells us about such concealed torment.
“Even in laughter the heart may sorrow, and the end of mirth may be grief [Proverbs 14:13 (NKJV)]”
The Message translates that verse this way:
“Sure, those people appear to be having a good time, but all that laughter will end in heartbreak.”
Robin Williams’ emotions were like a termite-infested house covered with fresh paint. His delightful demeanor hid destructive pain. People refer to the battle he fought. They say be wrestled with demons. In actuality he struggled with a disease: severe depression. In his mind lived both unbridled humor and inconsolable depression.
Fellow actors speak of his empathy and big heart. Imagine the effort it took for him to give so much in spite of his emotional pain. With his life snuffed out, one bright lesson remains: people with MI can contribute. That should be of some encouragement to those of us raising kids with MI.
But there’s another lesson for all to learn. Something else contributed to his death. What pushed such a seemingly successful man to end his life? He had recently spent time in rehab. But that apparently couldn’t cure him of his depression. Could it be that shame and stigma compounded his inner turmoil?
As mothers who know that shame. Let’s commit to praying for an end to the stigma that surrounds MI.
Dear heavenly Father,
Move in the hearts of people. Build a culture of compassion for those with MI. Restore joy and clarity of thought in the minds of those who suffer with MI. Especially our children.
Mental illness (MI) is once again in the news. Sadly, another mass shooting took place at the hands of someone who apparently suffered from MI. The shootings at the Navy Yard in our nation’s capital rocked the nation. Left us all grieving, stunned, and angry. Why does this keep happening?
Rick Warren, author of “The Purpose Driven Life” and pastor of Saddleback Church, knows what it’s like to have a child with serious MI. They faced a parent’s worst nightmare: the loss of that child to suicide. In April 2013, Matthew killed himself.
Last night, Pierce Morgan used his show to interview Rick Warren and his wife about MI and gun violence. The entire hour-long interview sounded like a message from the pulpit. Rick and his wife shared about pain, sorrow, grief. Yet their responses were sprinkled with unshaken faith in God, and words of hope. They spoke of seeing their son once again in heaven. And honestly admitted to nagging unanswered questions.
When we’re going through a trial that seems like it could defeat us, it helps to turn to someone who’s experienced it and survived. Rick Warren is one of those people. He had to live what he’d been preaching. Now when he speaks, people can’t say, “That’s easy for you to say.” He’s living proof that God is faithful. Our Father upholds the weary. And comforts the sorrowful.
Spend some time listening from Rick yourself. On his church’s website, he has a series entitled “How to Get Through What You’re Going Through.” Pick one of those that would most meet your current needs. Here’s one:
Yesterday athletes’ agony became America’s agony. The bombs that blew up in Boston tore through flesh and emotions. Confusion gave way to fear and thoughts of terrorism. A marathon turned into mayhem.
All our hearts go out to the people in Boston. Those who lost loved ones. Those who were injured. Those whose dream of finishing the marathon was severed by an act of terrorism.
What’s your version of a mom’s agony? Having a child with mental illness (MI) missing, losing that child to suicide, suffering the anguish of innocent lives taken at the hands of your child with MI, or experiencing the daily challenges of the child living at home (disrupting the peace in the family, trying to stay calm so as not to trigger violence or break from reality)?
Rick Warren just experienced the horror of losing a child with MI to suicide. An unbearable tragedy. Inflicting unimaginable pain.
The parents of the Aurora Shooter suffered the anguish of innocent lives taken at the hands of their son. Who could withstand such public shame in the midst of that nightmare? A nightmare that doesn’t end.
A mother of a missing child battles relentless torment. Dealing with the daily struggle to fight back fears. Fears of what might be happening to her vulnerable son or daughter.
Anyone struggling with the daily challenges of MI in the home knows how it can wear you down…almost cause you to lose your own sanity.
Does that describe your state of mind? Is your pain intense?
Is your mind troubled by thoughts of what’s happening to your child? Or do fears of what might happen plague you?
Regardless of the details of each mother’s trial, there are some similarities. Helplessness. Exhaustion. Strain on a marriage. Heartbreak for siblings who don’t get equal attention. Agony.
Christ experienced agony. He knew exactly what would happen to Him. He’d experience emotional torment from the soldiers’ mocking. The soldiers He’d die to save. He’d endure physical torture from the beating, forty lashes, and crucifixion. He’d suffer unfamiliar spiritual pain from the weight everyone’s sin.
As the day of His crucifixion approached, what did He do?
“Being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” Luke 22:44 (NKJV)
God honored His earnest prayers and enabled Christ to carry out God’s plan. To willingly die for our sin.
“So Judas came to the garden, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and the Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons.
Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, ‘Who is it you want?’
‘Jesus of Nazareth,’ they replied.
‘I am he,’ Jesus said.” John 18:3-5 (NIV)
We can survive each day by depending on the Lord. For Him to provide hope, guidance, healing of minds and marriages…
When our pain becomes agony, we can follow Christ’s example and pray more earnestly. God will honor our prayers and enable us to carry out His plan for our lives. To willingly face another day in anticipation of His faithfulness. God is bigger than any problem we face or fear. Nothing is impossible to Him.
Let Hillson’s song ‘This is How We Overcome’ minister to your heart:
Are we ever prepared for the death of a loved one?
On Martin Luther King Day, we had to put down our beloved 13 yr. old cocker spaniel. Three days later, my 93 yr. old mother-in-law, Mary, passed away.
Losing a family member is devastating. Losing two loved ones in the same week is more painful.
Many of us who have a child with serious mental illness (MI) worry about an early death of that child because MI can lead a person to commit suicide.
Our son, Chris, often says, “I won’t kill myself. But if I die, I’ll be in a much better place.”
Each time he repeats those words, I wonder if God is preparing my heart to face the unthinkable: Chris’s life being cut short. How could I face such tragedy?
Christ’s disciples faced the death of their Lord. Such loss. Soon after, He arose from the grave and appeared to them. Such joy! But, then He left them again as He ascended.
Then the disciples did something unexpected. They worshiped Him, returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and praised God.
When our dog died, my first reaction wasn’t joy. When I saw Mary in the hospital after she suffered a massive stroke, my inclination wasn’t to worship and praise God. Sadness flooded my heart. Tears flowed.
How were Jesus’ followers able to praise God when their Master left them? Luke tells us the answer.
“While He was blessing them, He left them and was taken up into heaven. Then they worshiped Him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.” Luke 24:51-53
They looked to God. They stayed in His presence.
Only there, can we find the same comfort. Remaining in His Word and continuing in prayer.
“You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” Isaiah 26:3
We can have victory over the enemy’s attempt to get us to abandon our faith.
The Bible tells us that we have a cloud of witness (Hebrews 12). Heroes of faith who have gone on before us are cheering us on. Can you hear them speaking to you? They’re telling you, “Trust God. Be patient. He is compassionate and merciful. Keep running your race. You can do it because God is faithful.”
Still, I wonder if I could maintain a trust in God if my son died young. I know the Holy Spirit would comfort me.
That same Comforter helped Job. A man who lost not just one child, but all his children…in addition to his livelihood. Yet, he still praised God.
“Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped. And he said: ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.’” Job 1:20-21
Job wasn’t the only one who lost his business and all his children.
In 1873 Horatio Spafford, a wealthy Chicago lawyer, wrote the words to the favorite hymn “It is Well with My Soul.”
Job and Horatio Spafford were real people. We can have a blessed assurance that God will help us through such grief. We may not understand why God allows suffering. But by faith we too can say, “It is well with my soul.”
Listen to that hymn as you read Horatio Spafford’s remarkable story.