God Will Do Great Things in the Aftermath of this Tragedy

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I love books. Love bookstores. Love to read. There is no shortage of books I can’t wait to devour – and it seems my stack of “to read next” books never seems to shrink, only grows taller! About twenty years ago I came across a book titled, The Purpose Driven Church (PDC) by an author by the name of Rick Warren. I devoured the information in PDC and as soon as I was in a position to do so I asked first my pastoral team to read PDC, then the vestry, then the other leaders of the church and finally anyone I could put PDC into their hands! In a May 2005 survey of American pastors and ministers conducted by George Barna, The Purpose Driven Church was voted as the second book most influential on their lives and ministries, behind The Purpose Driven Life, a subsequent book written also by Rick Warren in 2002. My parish was greatly blessed by the wisdom and guidance Rick provided us through his written word.

In March 2005 a man by the name of Brian Nichols, who was wanted for the shooting of four people in Atlanta, held Ashley Smith hostage in her apartment for seven hours. Smith reported to news outlets that during this time she read chapter 32 of The Purpose Driven Life to Brian Nichols, which she credited as influencing his decision to release her from captivity. Understandably, sales of The Purpose Driven Life rose greatly, with the book becoming Amazon’s second best-selling book after news of Smith’s captivity and release was announced.

Rick’s work and ministry have helped me personally and professionally, and I consider Rick a huge gift from God. So it is with a heavy heart that I heard the sad news that last week, Rick and Kay Warren’s youngest son, Matthew Warren, after a life-time of struggle with depression, ended his own life by a self inflicted gunshot wound to his head. I never knew Rick’s son suffered from depression; but following his son’s death, Rick has spoken publicly about Matthew’s depression, and he knows that his and Kay’s life will now be used to help countless others who suffer from mental illnesses. Matthew’s death will help shed a national spotlight on this issue, and God will do great things in the aftermath of this tragedy. Mark my words.

In the meantime my prayers, and I know yours as well, go out to Rick and Kay and all who know and love Matthew. May God be ever near them and give His peace to their lives. Bless them all, Lord.

May God be ever near all who suffer from the many different forms of mental illness. May our world embrace all of the mental health possibilities available today to help those who suffer lead lives as peace-filled, happy and content as is humanly possible. (There is help available right now for you or a loved one who is battling depression or thoughts of suicide. The National Suicide Prevention hotline is open 24 hours a day, at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). You can visit their web site for more information on the many resources available to help you.)

May God bless the health care providers in our community to continue to do all they can to assist those who suffer.

And finally God, please help us all to have a compassionate heart for those who suffer mental illness and do all we can to reach out and embrace, the same way Your Son, Jesus, taught us to do.

Amen.

I know you’re all praying. Me too, friends.

Peace,

Chuck

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