Rick Warren said he has cried "as many tears of joy as grief in the last 48 hours," because of the outpouring words of support and love to him and his wife Kay warren from friends and followers of the Saddleback ministry. The couple grieves for the loss of their 27-year-old son Matthew who killed himself Friday.
Addressing the ‘haters’, who disagreed with the evangelical pastor’s faith, the Saddleback Church Senior Pastor Warren tweeted Monday, “You’re most like Jesus when you pray for those who hurt you, ‘Father forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing.’”
On Monday, the megachurch pastor and best-selling author expressed difficulty dealing with some of the hate mail and online comments, including some that blamed him for his son’s death. “Grieving is hard. Grieving as public figures, harder. Grieving while haters celebrate your pain, hardest.”
Matthew Warren, 27, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at his home in Mission Viejo, the Orange County coroner said Monday. His death was reported to the Sheriff’s Department officials about 5:25 p.m. Friday.
Associated Senior Pastor Tom Holladay, who is Warren’s brother-in-law, preached the weekend services as scheduled before the tragedy occurred. He told those attending church services Sunday morning that he had been asked to talk about a week that the lead pastor had been reading.
“[Warren] said ‘there’s this little book I’ve been reading and I would like you to talk to the church about this book – the points that are in this book – and the name of the book is How to Survive the Worst Day of Your Life’,” Holladay explained to the crowd of more than 3,500 people and those watching online.
Matthew Warren's uncle then went on to preach based on the story of 1 Samuel 30, in which David came back from battle and found out that the entire town of Ziklag had been destroyed and his wives had been captured. He said the response of David and his people is a model for us to deal with a situation where hope seems distant, he said.
Holladay shared five things David did. The first was he wept. The teaching pastor stressed the importance of not denying emotions as human beings. He said that Jesus also wept. It is important to cry out to God, and share emotions with others.
The second thing is to not get bitter, said Holladay, but to forgive. When things fall apart, we always find someone to blame, which ends up with bitterness, he said. "We started to blame God. We wonder why... I also don't know why, but I know God can handle all my questions, He will be with me."
The third is to encourage yourself in God by getting around God’s people and read the word and find hope in Jesus, he said.
Holladay referred to Psalms 23, "Even though I walk through the valley of shadow of death, I will fear no evil for you are with me." Then, he asked the congregation to turn to Isaiah 40:30-31, "Even youths grows tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength."
The fourth thing is to "look for God’s word and look into the direction of hope," he said; don’t just look to the past. Jesus is about life, and He wants to give us life in its fullness, said Holladay. The fifth thing is to attack evil, for it is the best way to defeat evil, he said.
The assistant pastor urged the congregation to pray that Rick and Kay Warren can walk through these five steps. If they want to do something for the leading pastor, they should attack evil in their own lives, said Holladay.
A private memorial service will be held for Matthew Warren, Saddleback Church announced via its website.
“Since the Warren family is loved by so many, no building in Orange County is large enough to hold an open memorial service,” church officials stated. “The family decided it was best to have a small, private service for their son.”
Pastor Rick Warren “will speak publicly to our church family about the tragedy when he returns to preaching after a grieving period,” according to the statement.