Dear Mr. Rick Warren,
Although you don’t know me and I am just one of thousands of people who have reached out to you following the tragic loss of your son, please know that I count you as a brother in Christ.
You are my family, bound by the blood of Jesus, separated only by time, destined to spend eternity together worshipping the Most High.
And as my family, when you grieve, I grieve. My heart breaks and aches for the loss you experienced and the pain you must now endure. I look at my own children and hold them closer, knowing that they are not truly mine. They belong to the Lord. And God, in His remarkable love and kindness, entrusts us with these gifts. We are honored to shepherd them, for His namesake.
I desire to encourage you too, in the love, dedication, commitment, and hope you seemed to have displayed towards Matthew. On never giving up on him, on never surrendering, on continuing to stand in the gap, on trusting the Lord with your dear son.
The road of mental illness is often a long, winding, dark, and treacherous one. Even as Christ shines His light, the road remains cloaked in shadows of the unknown.
And nothing, absolutely nothing you did or did not do, allowed this tragedy to take place. You are not responsible for his death. I pray that you are able to ignore and cast off the voices of so-called “Christians” who would have you believe that you failed as a father. Or that your faith or theology or book sales prevented you from fathering well, thus leading to this loss.
Those are lies. All of them.
Christianity and the pursuit of Christ is not a depression-free zone. Following Jesus is not the guarantee of an easy life, or a perfect life, or a tied-up-in-a-pretty-bow-life. More so, Jesus does not promise us that mental illness will vanish. He promises to be with us, as we walk through it, suffer alongside our loved ones, and when tragedy strikes leaving us raw and wounded.
Despite what others would have you believe, I expect that you will stand face-to-face with Matthew in heaven, in the presence of our Lord Jesus–where they will be no more pain or sorrow.
I pray that those whose words attempted to undermine the power of a redeeming God would be convicted and silenced. I pray that what the enemy would attempt to use for evil, God will use for good. I pray that Christians see your loss as their own, another member of the body broken and bruised, and learn in this time what it is to come alongside our brethren–to weep with them and weep for them.
Finally, I pray that the unending, supernatural, and unfathomable peace of Jesus Christ will guard your heart and mind, and that of your family. I ask the Father to pour out His love, thick and all-consuming, like a balm to your spirit and a salve to your soul.
Know that so many of us are praying and will continue to do so, that Christ might be glorified, now and always…
with love and heartache,