Blog

The Asphyxiation of Hope: Matthew Warren (1986-2013)

I got the news on the road to Florida. My family and I, along with my mother, are in Florida for the Gospel Coalition conference. After this, we will head directly to Dallas, where I will participate in the Christian Renaissance conference. News like this breaks me more than anything else. I fell completely apart. I probably should not be writing. I wept for a bit. We were already having so many other issues on the drive, and this nearly put me over the top.  I just wanted to turn around. The Gospel Coalition and Christian Renaissance conferences are incredible and so valuable . . . for a certain type of person. But for those who have a broken mind and broken spirit, where do they go? What conference is there for Christians who can’t find any peace? What conference is there for those who have all the right doctrine and beliefs, but find no healing from them? What conference is there for those whose hope has been asphyxiated?

As I typed “2013 minus 27” in my calculator to figure out when Matthew was born (1986), I realized I was too hurt to think deeply about that right now. How cold. For some reason, coming up with those numbers put me too close, so a distant calculator was better. But what good would these words be, if I selfishly let Matthew turn into just a set of numbers?  1986-2013. Let those numbers sink in.

I did not know Matthew Warren. I don’t know his father, Rick Warren (at least not personally).  I am very familiar with his ministry. Unfortunately, most of the time I hear about Rick Warren is when someone tries to throw his life and ministry under the bus just to drum up some controversy. I have never joined this crowd in the slightest. Rick Warren’s focus and heart are amazing. What he has done for so many to increase the glory of Christ is beyond measure. His book, The Purpose-Driven Life, is a wonderful book that lit a fire in the hearts of many stagnant Christians.

Yesterday, as I continued to drive after hearing the news, here is where my thoughts went.  Pastor Warren led millions to find their purpose in life.  Yet the one closest to him, the one for whom he undoubtedly felt the most responsible, the one whom he loved the most, could not find that same purpose to drive his life. I also bowed my head as I thought of critics, whose minds might be so poisoned as to make them want to turn the blame back on Rick Warren. I have not read or heard of any who have, but God help those who do.

You see, I know what it feels like, that darkness that led Matt to do what he did. I lived there for a short time. I know how easy it is to pull that trigger. I know what it feels like, the black hole that somehow drains you of every shred of hope you have. It is like hanging on a cross, where you cannot catch your breath anymore. Everyone around is quick to offer their “easy” solutions (which I did before I went through this), heaping shame atop the already insufferable pain. I came out of it, and I don’t know how or why. Matthew never did.

My sister never did. Angie yelled in pain every night as she called on me to save her. I had never heard screams of emotional pain before. I had never experienced the wailing that a tortured soul could produce. The sound and the hurt were apocalyptic. “Michael! Get back up here!! You are a pastor. You are supposed to be able to do something.” I walked downstairs each night for a year, lay my head on my pillow, and called on God to do something that he was not going to do—heal my helpless sister.

Put me in a den of atheists. Put me a room with people who hate me. Put me among those who deny God and my Lord, Jesus Christ. My faith will remain. But put me in the midst of people who are calling on God to save them from doubt, pain, and depression, and my faith will sink in the quicksand with them. Why? Because I don’t know what to do.

Francis of Assisi used to sit with lepers and wash their wounds. He looked for those Christians who were falling apart, inside and out. God called Francis to “rebuild my church” and where does he go? He goes to those who could not be built back.

Rick Warren’s ministry to his son was not unsuccessful. I am told he was with Matthew the preceding night. He was a devoted father. Even so, he will enter into a time of significant despair. Suicide is a death unlike any other. Those left behind imagine the thoughts, looks, and pain of the one who is finally finished. They picture the tears in their eyes and see them begin to pull the trigger. Angie died on the bed of a cold dark hotel room, legs folded, with Chuck Swindoll’s Day by Day open in front of her. My other sister now has that book. She guards it like a treasure. Why? Who knows? We don’t know how to process the pain and darkness of that moment, so we hold fast to a token that represents Angie’s last thoughts or prayers. We do it as self-flagellation, penance for failing at a task we could not fulfill.

I don’t know how Rick Warren and his wife (please don’t leave her and the rest of the family out) are going to handle this. They may do like I did, and stay strong for many years for others’ sake. But at some point, subconsciously, the dam will break and they won’t know why (at least that is my experience). They may handle it like my mother did, with endless sleepless nights until the  pain eventually took her mind. They may handle it like my dad, who is plagued by unending guilt.

The questions are always the same: What did I do wrong? What could I have done differently? Once they are exasperated and find no rest, they will have to find some other footing, or else remain completely adrift, without anchor in a sea of faith.

With regard to Angie, the anchoring conclusion for me is not the conclusion many others reach…yet I don’t know where else to go, biblically. Who is at fault? God is. Not me. Not my mom. Not my dad. And not even Angie. For some reason, in this fallen world, God allowed darkness to rule her life to such a degree that she left this world in tears, crying to a God who did not show up in the way we all desired and prayed he would. His ways are not our ways. He is the one who works all things after the counsel of his will (Eph. 1:11), including leaving countless people in pain as they cry out to him for relief.

I would imagine it was the same with Matthew. I don’t suppose that God was a cheerleader in his pain, hoping that he would listen to the right advice or finally find the right pill. God took him violently. God took him darkly. And we have to accept this sometimes dark, violent, God as the one who loved him (and Angie) more than we can ever possibly imagine. If you can have that type of faith. . . if, by some miracle, you can drop that anchor quickly, you can continue your ministry in the hopes that you will join him one day.

I don’t know what kind of advice or hope to give those who have lost someone who was outside of the faith. I am sorry.

To all of those like Matthew: I do not give you permission to die. Don’t mistake my understanding for permission. The darkness that will overshadow the lives of the ones you leave behind is a darkness so terrible, no sun can fully break through it this side of heaven.

To Rick Warren and family: I am truly sorry for your loss. May Matthew rest from his pain, finally. May your pain one day turn to joy. Until then, may the Francis of Assisis of this world break through the judgment you feel, whether from within or without. May you be able to forgive all. May the asphyxiation of hope that Matthew felt be relieved in the arms of Christ, who loves you and gave himself up for you.

131 Responses to “The Asphyxiation of Hope: Matthew Warren (1986-2013)”

  1. Matt Blackmon 2013-04-07 at 10:43 pm

    Thanks Michael. I too have been there. The emotions storm back unbidden to do damage unwanted in ways unimaginable to hope that seems unassailable. I am glad you are my friend. I am always here for you, and am perpetually thankful for what you do.

  2. Isn’t it amazing? I don’t mind if I die. But what does that do to those I leave behind? My mind goes to those left behind. The pain of losing someone. Why is it we don’t mind leaving, but we don’t want to be left?

  3. Having gone through emotional pain and having a father and son with significant mental illness/despair, I resonate with your heart. Now is not the time to debate theology, but Calvinistic theology (Piper, etc.) is cold comfort. God did not take or kill this guy just because He did not heal Him. Allowing is not desiring, intending, causing. There is complexity vs simplicity to this. God is grieved by this. Jesus comes to give life and Satan comes to rob, kill, destroy. We also live in a fallen world, there is a demonic realm with genuine spiritual warfare as seen in the Gospels, free will is a huge factor, etc. A wrong view of God’s sovereignty (meticulous vs providential control) leads to no intellectual or pastoral comfort. For all the criticism of Open Theism, it offers a more coherent, biblical source of comfort in this situation: http://www.opentheism.info

  4. William, you are right, now is not the time to debate theology. So please, let us not turn this into what theology works best right now. I have only expressed my understanding and I know that it is not shared by many. Let’s leave it there for now.

  5. I think any opinion is at risk of offending someone. My son in law killed himself 12 years ago, two days before Christmas. My 2 young grandsons were at home with him when he did it. Newly constructed shed behind the garage. No, the boys didn’t see. This news transports me back to that day. I handled it just fine until a year later. Then suddenly, I experienced the most embarrassing panic attacks in public. I can hardly write about it now. I’m like everybody else…if only I had called to check on him that day.

    I’ve experienced my own bouts of depression. I have no idea how common it is or is not. Doesn’t matter. That gloomy feeling is daunting. At the time you don’t care much how many other people are suffering the same. In other words, if that’s normal, you don’t want to be normal.

    One thing I have been working through & it has helped me. When God said in this world we will have trials & tribulations, I don’t think He just was referring to job loss, economic troubles, relationship troubles, trouble with your teens or even car trouble. I don’t think He was only referring to cancer or heart disease. It’s like it never occurs to us that He might have also been referring to emotional pain & suffering. No one seems to talk about the fact that we may never be able to get away from this kind of suffering on this side of heaven. No one tells us, “You’re stuck in it much the same way a quadriplegic in stuck in his body.” And it’s got to be more than a little frustrating to be a quadriplegic. We are given all kinds of ways and solutions to get away from our pain. And when we don’t have success, how frustrating is that too? Very. Resisting pain, rebelling against pain really hurt me. I went deeper into the pit. No relief. Now I had failure to add to my pain.

    I wonder if we shouldn’t be more adamant about letting others know that their pain will be attached to them until they die a natural death or until Jesus returns? Don’t jack with me. Be real.

  6. For the record, I have been suicidal and my son has also been. I also do not believe suicide is the unpardonable sin (rejecting Jesus against light is closer to it) and that believers may do so in extreme pain. It can also be a godless, selfish act. Survivors should not be guilted or blame themselves. We all need to be more sensitive, supportive, aware.

  7. I heard Joni Eareckson Tada talk about her life as a quadriplegic. I’ve heard her talk about it before. This interview was different. She really got into the depression side of it. She wanted to die. After some mentoring by a dear sister, she decided that was not an option. She said she cried out to God,”I can’t do this. If I can’t die, then You are going to have to show me how to live!” And I’ve been using that line at the very onset of depression. I do not ask God to take it away. But I do now ask Him to help me live with what I cannot live with on my own. I don’t just want to exist. I want to live with whatever ails me with dignity. God doesn’t heal everybody. I don’t expect to have heaven on earth. I really don’t mind if someone looks me in the eye & tells me,”your depression is not going away. It might be better on some days, but it’s not going away unless God does a miracle & heals you & I wouldn’t hold my breath!” I’m good with that. It takes the pressure off of me so I can stop looking for “miraculous” cures. It’s actually OK.This is my wheelchair. But I do put it on God. “If I can’t die, if I can’t be cured of this dark feeling for once & for all, then You, God, have to show me how to live! Have mercy on me & give me a way to get through this, not tomorrow or the next day but today! Or through the next hour. Whatever. I will dutifully live with my infliction but I need You to get me through!” I know, I know. Sounds simplistic. But it’s working for me. I admit, I think a lot. If my child was diagnosed with a terminal illness, TELL ME! I’d want to know. Don’t walk on eggs around me. I have to have the truth. Don’t give me false hope & set me up for failure. Treat me like I, at least, deserve the truth. Don’t expect me to live well for you when you’re in denial about the severity of my illness. Look at it. It’s gross like a deformity. An emotional deformity. Just hold my hand occasionally like you would if I had cancer. That’s all.

  8. Michael,
    When I first heard the news all I could think of is asking God to protect Rick Warren and his wife and family from all the “nice” people who wanted to help. then I thought of you and your sister and I knew that as soon as you heard the scab would come off the wound. Empathy is not all it is cracked up to be, especially in times like this. My prayers for Warren’s and for you Michael and your family, my friend, I know you are hurting. I wish I could do more than just cry and pray.

    Jay.

  9. Reading the news, I’ve been struck by how similar Matthew Warren is to me. He’s three years older than me, was raised in a Christian home, believed in Christ himself and struggled with depression for many years.
    That led me to think how close I came to his situation. In my darkest moments, I cried out to God, asking him to just end my life. I knew I couldn’t commit suicide because of how much that would hurt my family and because it would be a terrible witness to my unsaved friends. But I wished I could. I remember lying on my bed, screaming silently at God in anger that He would put me through this and not let me take my own life. But he brought me out of it. I don’t know why I escaped with my life but Matthew Warren did not. I don’t believe I was stronger than him; it’s more likely that my depression was less severe (not that that’s something you can measure).
    I don’t know where I’m going with this other than to add my prayers for the Warren family. May the God of light and life, the supreme Healer keep them and guard them. May they be shielded with His comfort and guarded until they join Matthew in a kingdom where death, mourning, crying and pain are no more.

  10. Michael, I have taken the liberty of translating and posting this piece on my German blog (and I linked to it on my English blog).
    Very important thoughts. All to often our churches are not safe and welcoming places for those who suffer from depression and we (Christians) need to start thinking about that and make changes.

  11. Rebecca, based on your comments, I think you would really like this. (It’s not mine, I don’t even have a YouTube account.)

    http://youtu.be/k6NWR08ts_w

    It’s about living through darkness. My church usually sings it the night before Easter. I do often imagine what the disciples must have been going through. Not only did they horrifically lose their dear teacher, but what they imagined life held for them was completely turned upside down. Yet good news was coming. It helps remind me that the darkness is never God’s final answer. Even if on Earth we find no relief, no answers, eternity is waiting.

    God bless Matthew Warren, the Warren family, Angie, the Patton family, and all those affected by that terrible illness.

  12. yes, a remembering for desire and strength to join in prayer for His most afflicted; for His power against asphyxiation of hope while on this earth and praise for the gift of everlasting Hope. In all their affliction, He was afflicted, Isa 63: 9a ; When we are afraid, we will put our trust in You, Lord Ps 56:3

  13. Clint Roberts 2013-04-08 at 8:28 am

    You are identifying something here that was very hard for me to learn early on after seminary, and that is the brutal reality of ‘real’ ministry in the world. I came to see, finally, that teaching and preaching are easy. True pastoral care is gut-wrenching.

    It is nothing to stand before a crowd and explicate truths. Sure it requires some labor in terms of preparation. But to try (seemingly in vain) to counsel people in the throes of anguish is altogether different. Grief, to quote Shakespeare, “sucks out the soul, leaving us but the shales & husks of men.” The attempt to be an ‘answer man’ for people is more than an academic exercise. That part is challenging in its own way, but not as painfully challenging as trying to help people who are battered by life & the “thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to” (sorry, Shakespeare again).

  14. Michael Karpf 2013-04-08 at 8:49 am

    I am really seeing a need for people to be able to talk about this. I have been through a black hole, and I do know what it feels like. There is no way out of it, and God won’t do anything about it. The pain is so bad you will do anything to end this suffering. Even suicide if that is a way out.
    This is not a time for theological debate. In a time like this, the best thing we can do is show compassion and be there for people who are hurting.
    I would like to share this. My sister and I were talking about it and we were talking about it yesterday after church. I know of at least 4 suicides over the last 3 months. When people commit suicide, it starts to give others the impression that it might be the best thing to do. So and so committed suicide, so why shouldn’t I do it? I won’t quote Romans 8:28, because I’m sure that nobody left behind sees anything good in this. But it is my prayer, that people are more open to talk about these issues. I do believe, if Matthew accepted Christ as his personal Savior, that he has been welcomed home. But I also know that we need to pray for his family and show them all the love and support we can. People too often are quick to give advice. Please don’t do that. I don’t have answers and I’m not going to pretend I do. But I do know, from being depressed myself, the last thing I want is advice. I had to leave my former church because they preached a prosperity gospel and told me I don’t have depression anymore. Please let’s be sensitive to the one going through depression. My prayers are with the Warrens.

  15. *groan*

    Thank you, Michael for posting this. I always appreciate your rugged honesty and may God comfort your heart (and your family) and the hearts of those who are hurting right now.

  16. Thanks Michael for an honest, out of the heart blog about our collective struggle to understand.
    May the Lord be with Rick and his family and give them so much grace and love in these dark days.
    And thanks for your blog- I enjoy it so much but have never commented before…

  17. Aye, the “friends of Job”, both those so-called positive and negative, can be like “the flaming darts of the evil one.” Best to speak very little at this time! And lest some think I have never felt the depth of loosing friends and even family, I have both seen best friends die in combat (and ordered their positions in the fight, shoulder to shoulder), and my wife’s mother’s sister’s daughter hung herself in her 30’s, with two of her young teen children making the discovery, just a few years back. And I knew her well! All we can say, with that we live in a very evil and fallen world!

    But again, I hate psychological “projection”! (Of psychoanalysis)

  18. Michael, I just can’t imagine the pain that suicide leaves behind. And I can’t imagine or understand the pain that would push someone to that point.

    But through your openness and honesty about Angie and your own darkness, I have come to see the reality of it all in a new way, even if I’ve only gotten as far as understanding that I don’t understand. Your experiences, expressed in what you write, have given me a deeper compassion for those going through such times. I see more clearly that there are no simple answers, and sometimes, maybe no answers at all.

    Thank you for this article and those you’ve written in the past.

  19. Thanks, Michael. This post clearly shows why I am a devoted follower of your ministry. My wife and I continue to pray for Rick and his family. Selah!

  20. @Irene. Thank you so much for the music link. It was beautiful, very touching. I, too, have done the same and brought it to others attention. How the disciples must have felt. Not knowing what to do immediately with all that grief. And Peter. Poor Peter. The loss was so devastating. And how do you emotionally get it all back into gear by the next day. I can’t imagine they’d have any energy at all.

    I like your statement,”the darkness is never the final answer”. I wish we heard more about suffering and that we are all assigned suffering. We just don’t get to choose the level or type of suffering.

    I wonder if suicidal depression is similar to being far away from home, filthy, sweaty, sand in teeth, in a fox hole with bullets flying over your head? Not even a blanket to pull over your head. I wonder if the gripping fear and horrible fatigue is the same level, is as deep as the pain one feels when he or she considers suicide? One, you’re trained to expect the misery, the other you are trained or conditioned to try to escape it. How much does it have to do with training, with conditioning?

    If a suicidal person was told that for everyday he stayed alive, a little girl was given the chance to be cured of cancer, what would he do? His life was like a fund raiser. But if he died from self inflicted injuries, she dies too. Would a child’s life hinging on what he does with his be enough motivation for the person to live? Would responsibility and love for a helpless soul be powerful enough to make a suicidal person stop? Is there really no answer? At least, no better answer?

  21. Excellent post. Christianity is a process a bit like growing older. Let us wisely love each other more and judge each other less…

  22. Michael, thank you for your courage and honesty as we all try to process this tragedy. I lost an unbelieving friend to suicide and the emotional weight of it descended quickly and I thought it was one I needed to carry. At the throne of grace through the Spirit, I was told I was not to carry it, and this is what Jesus meant when he told us to cast our cares on him (Matt 11:28). Frankly, I always thought that verse was kind of glib, really, but now I know it as a provision for our pain. There are just some things too heavy to carry. I still get sad about my friend but it isn’t the heaviness that crushes. I pray this for the Warrens and all those touched by suicide.

  23. Johnny Bailey 2013-04-08 at 4:22 pm

    I have a son who suffers from bipolar disorder and I am in ministry. Not only that this son is currently incarcerated. I cannot begin to tell you how many times our adversary has pointed his boney finger at me and my wife with seeds of guilt as if all of this is out fault. What really hurts is when your own Christian family does this as well. Where is our compassion? Why do we look down our noses as if we will never experience this kind of pain?

    I thought the power to push past pain like this is what the church is about? I love God and I love his people but there are times the way we react when our brothers and sisters are in pain confuses me.

    May God bless and comfort the Warrens

    God help us

  24. I applaud Michael’s courage and honesty, even if I’m not sure I completely agree with everything he wrote. I too have been touched by the agony of suicide. As a 17 year old, my best high school friend took his own life. I reeled from the pain of that event for years, and blamed God and, to some degree, myself for a long time, even justifying prodigal behavior as a young adult because of it. Ultimately, I went into ministry, partly driven by the brokenness I found in my own life, and the observation that this same brokenness was evident in everyone else’s life too. Only Jesus could bring hope, relief, and even joyful purpose. And when I entered vocational ministry, I relearned the burden and brokenness of humanity and my own sin all over again. God is faithful, but life never has become easier. Maybe just more interesting – and profoundly sadder and more hopeful at the same time. I concur with everyone in the preceding posts who desperately long for heaven. And as one who has battled depression myself, I can truly empathize with those who have fatally lost the battle. As one who has a working knowledge of psychology and biblical nouthetic counseling approaches, I am still at a loss as to how to give an answer to someone who is in the darkest grips of depression. In fact, I even have a friend right now who has been debilitated to the point of seeking electro-shock therapy.
    All I can do is pray “God help us all.” And for me, the biggest stop gap for me committing suicide in the past, has always been two things. A sacrificial love for those closest to me, understanding the devastation suicide leaves for survivors. And the wonderful knowledge that Scripture gives us regarding eternal rewards for those who persevere and are overcomes. Truly, suffering is one of the most profound tools in God’s toolbox, in which He “conforms us to the image of Christ.” (Romans 8:29).
    I think God and the enemy can both introduce depression- but results can be very different!

  25. My son is in a mental hospital at the moment. I was in ministry. The Church needs to come out of the dark ages on this issue and learn wisdom and compassion.

  26. I have suffered bipolar disorder all my life. My mother suffered it and my grandmother. I have never lost anyone to it, and regardless of my many attempts I have not lost my own life.

    Some time ago I felt called by God into ministry… it seemed so absurd, but it was God. How do you refuse God? What I didn’t know is the emptiness that would follow. God so emptied me of myself that I’ve lost everything. My despair is so deep that every morning I wake up less and less willing to continue.

    I have a rope tied up in my garage because I assume at some point I will be ready to remove the burden that is me from the world. I have no expectation that death will alleviate my pain. But for some reason… I feel like it might be the only way God will notice me again.

    I hold on though. I hope in some way God will answer me again. For now, there is only emptiness. I don’t blame God… I don’t doubt God loves me. I just don’t understand who I am. Why does God love me. Why would he want me to live this empty life unless he was ready to fill me with Him. And how much of this is just me fooling myself. What if I really am just nothing… a random accident existing only as a burden on others. I can’t live like this.

  27. Vince Romao 2013-04-08 at 4:54 pm

    Another tragic moment amid constant tragic moments each and every day in our fallen world. My dad committed suicide, two attempts before the third and final. There are no words. I saw another post that supposedly Greg Laurie said there are no words, only one word – Immanuel.

  28. My heart goes out to the Warren family. Like most people here, I only know the public persona and the ministry. My church went through the ‘Purpose Filled’ book some years ago. I didn’t even know they had a son with such problems. It broke my heart to learn this news. It’s a terrible thing and it has made me very sad.

    ***

    But I do have to comment on this bit:

    “Unfortunately, most of the time that Rick Warren comes up on the radar in my circles is in order to throw his life and ministry under the bus of an agenda that lives or dies by the controversy they create.”

    That’s inaccurate and unfair. Just because one Christian may disagree with and even criticize another Christian’s statements on an issue, their ministry or their theological views does not mean we are ‘throwing them under the bus’.

    Can this type of disagreement/criticism be done in a wrong and even sinful way? Yes, of course. But the mere fact of disagreeing/criticizing does not equal sin.

    It’s called discernment. It’s not only allowed by Scripture, it is commanded for us to do!

    And no, I don’t do the ‘this is not the time’ thing either. That’s just a way to silence others. Just because someone has suffered a loss doesn’t mean we can’t even have a discussion about various issues where we may disagree with the person. That’s the Leftist way of silencing others. We must never fall into that pattern as followers of Christ.

    God’s way is to speak the truth in love. As Christians we can be great on the ‘love’ part, but the ‘truth’ part is more often than not lacking, simply because we’re immersed in a culture where any pointing out of right and wrong is said to be called “mean” and “judgmental”.

    Again, let’s not fall into that trap.

    ***

    I will pray for the family. Their pain must be unbearable.

  29. Bless you Michael, for writing this. I can only imagine how painful it was for you to relive your sister’s tragedy. I have struggled for many years with depression and suicidal thoughts, and have had family members end their lives. I know what a horror suicide is. I was very saddened to hear of Matthew Warren’s suicide. My hearts & prayers go out to his family, friends, and church. In the midst of all my pain and unanswered prayers and questions, this one fact I desperately try to remember to cling to: Almighty God is good. He is still on His Throne. And He loves us more than we can even fathom.

  30. Michael, thanks!

  31. thank you Rebecca and Elizabeth. You have helped me today more than you will ever know!
    Michael, hold on, take the rope down.

  32. April Carter 2013-04-08 at 9:24 pm

    There is a difference between asking God for help and meaning it. If Matthew meant it, he was not going to successfully kill himself. God would have prevented its success. Do you really think God was going to allow Matthew to succeed if he was truly his? What many Christians are doing, in this situation, is ignoring everything God has said. James tells us to not ask amiss, for when we do, we get nothing. God said that he will not allow us to go through more than we can handle. He also said that he will take care of us and rescue us. Paul explained how hard things can get and that we must never give up. God abhors murder of any kind. Suicide is murder. God said all murderers will not enter into his kingdom. Besides blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, every other sin can be forgiven except for suicide. True repentance is when you ask for forgiveness AFTER an act, which is impossible with suicide. Death is the cut off point for repentance. Once you are dead, your attempts at repentance will be ignored. So, it doesn’t matter how much many Christians choose to ignore all that God has said: Matthew is in hell and you are foolish to believe otherwise.

  33. April, heresy is half truth. Are you descended from Job’s comforters? What you say is true of selfish, godless suicide, not a Christian who may become psychotic/delusional from lack of sleep, etc.

    Bipolar, Michael. I assume you have tried to get help. Suicide should not be an option.

  34. Steve Johnson 2013-04-09 at 12:26 am

    I really wish you didn’t and would write such articles, it maybe good for those that are ready for it, and for clinical or even some theological studies when people ask for information but in general, for the public, there are many who are gravely depressed or have mental sicknesses and for them this may make it harder to accept life and suffering and lead them ever more closer to the thought of suicide.

    “How do I know this” or ” what makes me an expert”? you may ask. Well, I am one of them. I am a 41 year old male who is working on my Master of Arts in Biblical Studies, wanting to continue with a Ph.D. I “was” a mail carrier (full time) on a 32 mile route and walked 11.5 miles of them and a Union Steward. Worked out 3 days a week, pastored a small church. I loved my job and pastoring and was hoping and praying about going into full time ministry, when I hurt my back on the route and am now almost bed ridden.

    After being off from work for 3 years, have had 2 surgeries and find out Thursday if a 3rd surgery is possible, of which, I hope, taking nearly 40 plus pills for pain, & depression, the United States Postal Service finally terminated my job March 13th, 2013. I haven’t worked since Feb. 5, 2010 and had to step down from pastoring due to pain 6 months later. Needless to say, I have to fight with worker’s compensation constantly because now they are trying to force me either back to work ir going to community college for a desk job, of which, I hurt so extremely bad when I try to sit for over 15 to 30 minutes. And I can’t even drive anymore. I use to have the personality of ” happy go lucky” but I can tell I’m just getting hateful all the time.

    My life has been literally taken from me, I’m getting fat, have lost all muscle that I have ever had. I am no good for anyone, I feel like a complete failure, am sick all the time, I feel like a burden to my wife and 3 kids. Everyone has to almost do everything for me all the time. And I hate it and…

  35. Phil Nicholas 2013-04-09 at 12:43 am

    CMP, it was a pleasure and honor to finally meet you this afternoon at TGC 2013. You are indeed as gracious and pastoral in person as on your blog.

    I wish more Christian well-wishers would hear the Lord in Proverbs 25:20:

    “Whoever sings songs to a heavy heart is like one who takes off a garment on a cold day, and like vinegar on soda.”

    While I want to believe good motives in those who try to cheer people up amidst the depths of darkness and despair, they know not what they do. They do not understand, and indeed resent, the soda-on-vinegar response that their trite and often ill-timed “exhortations” produce in the wounded. They don’t understand how their emotional discordance is, more often than not, a well-meaning disobedience to the command to weep (not lecture, cheer up, judge, ignore or avoid) with those who weep (Rom. 12:5). In as much as the church needs to come to terms with depression, mental illness, abuse, etc., we need to humbly admit that *few* of us have the personal/pastoral skill to speak into these tragedies.

  36. April, have You repented of every Single sin in your Life? I doubt You Are aware of every sinful act, just like all of us. Salvation is by Grace! What if You lie to someone and get struck by lightning right after? According to your theology, you’d be in hell. But if You Are regenerated and have a new heart, how Can You just lose that salvation because of not actively repenting of The sin of suicide afterward?? Doesn’t make sense…repentance is a lifestyle, not an “act You have to do after every Single sin anew, otherwise you’re going to hell”…

  37. Kevin Fitzgibbon 2013-04-09 at 8:47 am

    As one who has been “through it” I found it helpful to let others who have walked down the road of despair and have been taught to in turn teach me…

    My favorite teacher (besides Christ) is Charles Spurgeon:

    “I would comfort thee with this reflection. Jesus Christ said, “Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” If you come to him, he will say “Amen” in your soul; his promise shall be true to you. He said in the days of his flesh, “The bruised reed I will not break.” O thou poor, broken, bruised heart, if thou comest to him, he will say “Amen” to thee, and that shall be true in thy soul as in hundreds of cases in bygone years. Christian, is not this very comforting to thee also, that there is not a word which has gone out of the Saviour’s lips which he has ever retracted? The words of Jesus shall stand when heaven and earth shall pass away. If thou gettest a hold of but half a promise, thou shalt find it true. ”

    Amen.

  38. CMP, thank you for a thoughtful post and sharing your own experience. Usually you are open to discussion on the points you raise, so I just want to add that I would not be able to find comfort, as you do, in believing that God took my sister as part of his wise and mysterious plan. Instead, I would have to adhere to God’s Word that our enemy prowls around looking to devour and destroy us, and sometimes he is successful. I agree with William that God is grieved over Matthew’s suicide, and over every life that is destroyed by the devil.

    • I believe that God grieved greater than we all could imagine. God’s will is accomplished in a sin stained world. All he has is sin to work with sometimes. If he uses sin for his glory, I will shake my fist but for a moment. Then I will remember the end of evil and rest until he comes.

  39. Being a Christian with bipolar disorder type 2, sometimes it is as easy as finding the right “pill”. Bipolar type 2 is mild and masks itself as depression, when indeed it is not, making it more deadly than bipolar type 1 in many cases. Only a small percentage of people with bipolar type 2 find out that’s what it is, being treated with antidepressants instead of with mood stabilizers. Antidepressants only worsen the bipolar disorder symptoms over the years. Believe me I know. It took 7 years, three doctors to finally figure it out. 1 out of 5 males who have untreated bipolar disorder will take their life. Reading this article, I could relate. God’s ways are not our ways, and his purposes are hard to understand, but I believe those like Matthew who are Christians, whose lives comes to end like this, we will see in Heaven one day…

  40. Michael,

    Thank you for this post. I personally know the pain of depression and that of a family member choosing to take their own life. Your comments here and elsewhere on your sister and your struggle with the situation have been inspiring and helpful in letting me know that my feelings aren’t unusual or unique.

    I wrote about some of this after Matthew Warren’s death on my blog, please take a look if you get the chance: http://danielspratlin.com/2013/04/matthew-warren-and-the-effects-of-suicide/

  41. I can only speak for myself. When I started to accept my limitations, whether they be chronic pain or chronic despair, I changed. I saw my constant unhappiness over my circumstances that were very real as rebellion. I had never looked at it like that before. Where did I even get that idea? When I got it into my head that there is no guarantee that God will take it all away in the here & now, I changed. When I asked myself, why should I be healed, I changed. For me, there is no earthly reason God should heal me now or later when I might have a surgery or terminal illness. My mother died at 54 from a “successful” surgery. It could happen again. When I think of how I have lost so much mobility, I now ask, why not? I realized when I saw others healthy & vibrant & active, I was resentful & felt all alone. I coveted what they had. So my emotions & body may be held targeted by a fallen world but my heart belongs to my Savior. I finally resigned to suffering as part of my testimony & a way to exalt Christ. Yes, I still get down about it. But then I remember, if all else fails, meaning that I have tried all I know how to do & all that has ever been suggested I do, that suffering comes with the territory. And I can’t come up with a good enough reason as to why I shouldn’t suffer? I want to ask a question. Please be patient with me. If mental illness cannot be overcome in certain cases, if the person doesn’t have the capacity for reason, would we think it OK for that person to kill our child rather than himself? No, we don’t think it’s OK. But do we call that mental illness or evil? That said, it’s my belief that one who takes his own life can enter God’s glory. But I really think when he sees Christ, he’s going to wish he could take that day back. Just like the rest of us & our hidden sins. We are granted forgiveness now but go into eternity rationalizing our sin? I don’t want to be called onto the carpet.The crown I most want to lay at Jesus feet, may not be mine to give?

  42. Thank you Michael. I have known a just a few who committed suicide, one of who was a fairly close family friend. I also look back on my Dad’s depression and his thoughts of suicide when I was in jr. high. Perhaps even more, I think back to the countless nights my wife was in a dreadful depression. She said she wasn’t bad enough to hurt herself, but other comments really made me wonder. Just sitting there holding her hand at night with no end to the depression in sight… I can’t count how many prayers were demanding, begging, pleading, screaming at God to save my beloved. I can only imagine how destroyed I would have been had God not given her the grace to pull her from it. I can only imagine the utter destruction you have gone through for however long or that the Warren’s are just beginning to endure. Thank you for such an honest, pained, loving, deeply Christian, deeply compassionate look at this … whatever it is – this issue, this crisis, this pain, this dark night of the soul that may last for years. Thank you

  43. We either have more mental illness than ever before in history? Or we are just more aware of it? If it’s the former, maybe, it’s both? Maybe this is indicative of the last days? With each passing day, Satan is ramping up his antics & one of the best ways is to get to our emotions. Who can deny that? To commandeer a mind is the most effective way to get into control. Right? There have been people that have suffered illnesses, heartbreak, & horrific accidents right up to the bitter end. With the right attitude, we can be overcomers. But go after the mind & it’s like coming up from behind & knocking the props right out from you. Think about it. What do we fear the most when we send our kids off to college? That the enemy will seize their minds. That they will leave as believers & come back as unbelievers. Does Satan not know where we are the most vulnerable? Still, we that are not the target of Satan’s lust at the moment, need to be ready to identify what is bogus in order to not be coached into walk a different path. Additionally, to recognize the source will enable us to help others stand firm & to stick with them through these times. I think much can be overcome with those suffering such pain if we stay the course with them. And this, my friends, could take years, could take a lifetime. The abandonment some experience is not God honoring as well and plays some serious head games. Of course, you have to use discernment here & listen for language that would indicate one doesn’t want to get well. Some can & have regarded their “mental illness” like a comfortable old shoe. So, if discernment is not your gift, find someone who has it. To me, even if someone doesn’t appear to want to get well, I think God will be pleased if we stay the course with them in order to help avoid a suicide. What I think doesn’t please God is for us to allow them to make us their god. Which means we need stamina to deal with the situation. Which means, we need partnership with other…

  44. “partnership with other willing helpers” was my last line that got cut off.

  45. Often I can’t help be wonder what a St. Paul would have to say in this so called age of our modernism and postmodernity? But in fact he has, in his own life, doctrine/teaching & theology. Btw, a study of Paul’s so-called “torn” in the flesh, which was “a messenger of Satan to harass [him]”, (1 Cor. 12: 8-10), is far more of benefit, than looking at our own self’s, time and culture. And of course the life and death of Christ is seen and lived-out in the life and death of Paul, himself, (2 Cor. 4: 7-16 /2 Tim. 4: 6, etc.). But Paul presses more of “Christ Jesus”, crucified, risen & ascended! Is HE not enough? I say with Paul, He is!

  46. i suffer from bipolar 1 disorder. it is a terrible, devastating pain. I have suffered bipolar depression (my most recent lasted for over 4 months after i had surgery), hypomania, and mixed episodes. Recently, the only Psalm that i could connect to is Psalm 88. It is a very dark Psalm where the Psalmist is very despondent. The Psalm does not end on a “Praise the LORD” but with loved and friend is removed far from me. I suffered this for about a year. Often i thought that for me it is far better for me to depart and be with the LORD and to be absent from the body is to be present with the LORD.
    What hurts is that, as a Christian, i am instructed to be filled with his joy, to live a life filled with the fruit of the Spirit. When i study the 9 fold fruit of the Spirit and then i examine the behavior that is displayed during an episodic time or a time of continual decompensation, i easily come to the conclusion that my behavior was diametrically oppose to the way a Spiritual believer is to be. After my episodes, i have to struggle through much shame. I find myself at times isolating myself from people so that i wont hurt them. So i tell myself i must protect other people from me. All this can end up being a huge struggle. To make things worse, i have been gift the gift of teaching and because of my episodes and being unstable at times, i am not able to serve the Love of my Life, and my LORD and Savior by teaching because we must think of others. None of these thoughts do not contribute to my being stable but it can drive me into drooping depression with sinking shame. It is a warfare. The Scriptures teach that we are in a warfare and well i know the battle of the person with mental health issues. Reading these posts have given me some hope. It appears there is much sympathy and compassion for the Warren family. It seems that there is a growing understanding about mental illness and that it is not happening because of sin or a in a person’s…

  47. Mr. Patton, I wept as I read this. My heart is heavy with your pain and I will pray for you. Thank you for having the courage to post this.

  48. Heartfelt and sincere, a difficult subject for sure. Depression? May those who have never been there be grateful. But I’m afraid the comment that struck me hardest was, “Who is at fault? God is.” This opened up a pit in my own stomach. Where is the Great Physician when he is needed most?

  49. A note to Wolf Paul (#10 above). Based on what you’ve said I think it may be worth your while to listen to Aaron Budjen’s Message #57 on Romans (The Love of God). I think this message may put more foot-leather to what you’re driving at.

    http://www.newcovenantinstitute.net/living_god_ministries/radio_archive/romans.htm

  50. I can only offer my prayers to all who are suffering loss at this time. Whatever the reason, it is not our place to bring into question God’s ontology. This life is what it is if it were not for this thing called sin. CMP, I love you man for your boldness and raw courage to go there, and be real. Be strong Brother.

  51. Thought of u the second I saw the headline on Drudge.

  52. A few disjointed thoughts:

    This post and this entire thread of comments has been extremely disturbing.

    I haven’t worked out theologically yet what happens to Christians who commit suicide. To be honest, up until a few years ago when I heard of it happening, I didn’t even think such a thing was possible.

    But I too find it worrisome to talk about suicide like it’s an option, a relief from pain, knowing that some people may then decide to do just that.

    ***

    Three points:

    1 – Not everyone who is depressed or has thoughts of suicide (or even attempted it) is “mentally ill”. People are sometimes just struggling with very hard things like chronic illness (personally, or in taking care of someone in that situation) or the death of a loved one or long-term unemployment and they want relief from the endless struggle. It’s perfectly understandable and rational to long for an end to such pain.

    2 – The bottom line is that people have a choice to murder themselves or to not do so. I realize everyone will consider me cruel, but I’m sorry, this needs to be said.

    God does not “take” someone who commits suicide. They do it to themselves.

    It’s the same thing as someone who chooses to murder another person. Does God “take” that victim? No. He allows horrible things for reasons I cannot fathom, but He does not do them. People choose to do what they do.

    3 – The conclusion here seems to be that God is not faithful, that God is not enough, and the resources given in Scripture for enduring this horrible, broken world are insufficient.

    This horrifies me. This is not the Christianity I know. Something is wrong here.

    ***

    Again, this will label me as cruel and unfeeling. It is not my intent to be so. I don’t wish to go into detail in a public space like this, but it’s not like I haven’t felt some of this pain personally.

    ***

    I debated whether to even say any of this. But seeing some of the comments here has been very disturbing.

    • Mo,

      As odd as it may sound, I am glad you are disturbed in one way. It lets me know you are taking this seriously even if your answers are on the “quick fix just do this or that” side. Christians need to be more disturbed by the ugliness of sin and the ways of God that confuse us.

  53. Michael Patton, I have read and reread Mo’s comment and did not notice that a quick fix was offered. I saw observations and I think she did really well to summarize those observations. That’s hard to do without going into detail. If this was a LIVE, in person round table discussion, it would take days for all of us to feel it had been hammered out properly and given the time such a discussion deserves. I appreciate all the answers. One of the biggest problems with suicide is that we failed to get inside that person’s head. Here we have people allowing us to do just that. I don’t much care “at this point” if their thinking is wrong. I just want to know what they are thinking? I wish this was in person and I could hold everyone’s hand. So many questions and so few answers. Are there times we (this culture) help others feel justified in there misery by giving them a label? Are there times we shame what we don’t understand, what scares us? Are there times when the medications stop working and start being the problem? Are there times it is truly a matter of brain chemistry and nothing else. Like a birth disorder? Are there times brain chemistry change is brought about by the sad choices one makes? Are there times when medication for a serious physical problem cause the brain to malfunction? And are there times when one has been on such meds for so long, that even if removed, the brain has found a new normal…called depression? And does medication for depression work for a while and then lose it’s effectiveness and has to be increased and later changed and the cycle starts all over again? Are there times it is nothing but demonic influence? Lastly, with all the stories, is there a common thread, other than one is depressed and wants to fade away? How much has to do with being lonely or left alone? Those are just a few of the questions. So many more. I really like your last statement about the fact we should be disturbed about the ugliness of sin.

  54. “It lets me know you are taking this seriously even if your answers are on the “quick fix just do this or that” side. ”

    I’m sorry, but no, they were not.

    I’m not expecting anyone to really understand what I said. I wasn’t able to articulate my thoughts the way I normally would.

    But I think what I did manage to get across was so important that I risked at least trying to say it, even though I knew I would be misunderstood.

  55. @ Rebecca –

    Thank you. I think your comments and those of Greg (Tiribulus) have been the closes to what I have been wanting to say.

    It is indeed a difficult, horribly painful subject. One can only do so much in a setting such as a blog/web site. I too wish that I could ease the sorrow of all those enduring this pain.

  56. Thank you so much for writing your thoughts on this. I am the mother of a 22 year old son who committed suicide just last year — my heart resonated deeply with many thoughts in your message, and it brought me to tears, to read such empathetic words. I have not agreed with Mr. Warren’s theology, but there is no doubt that he is a brother in Christ, and my heart goes out to he and his wife during this difficult time of grieving the loss of their precious son.
    My husband and I both believe that there was a missed diagnosis with our son in all the counseling and therapy that he received, but we know that he had called on Christ to save him, and though he struggled with darkness, he is now free from his struggles in the arms of Jesus.
    I have felt the strangle hold of panic attacks and the ensuing darkness of depression myself, and during those times rational thinking was barely possible. If I had to endure a long season of either of those I could easily see myself coming to a place of wanting to end it. Thanks be to my merciful Father that I have not ever come to that point, but I can see how others could and have.
    I do not doubt that God loves my son, and as our pastor said at his memorial service, “Where was Jesus when this happened? I suggest that He was there to catch him when he fell…”
    May God bring great comfort and deep joy to the Warren family in all the hard days and moments ahead of them.
    I know that God is good.

  57. The Lord bless your heart, Matthew, for your vulnerability, compassion and wisdom. I want to share my article: “Suicide: The Most Tragic Result of Untreated Chronic Depression and Mental Illness.”

    These days, my heart reserves a special space for Pastor Rick Warren, his wife Kay and their living children. Their heartbreak reminds me of a couple I met years ago, who talked about their travels to so many countries that I asked: What parts of the world have you not vacationed in yet? But what I really wanted to inquire was: Why are you living as if you’re trying to escape something? What are you running away from? Later I sadly wondered if they were running away from grief and painful memories. They had lost their son, then only a teenager, to suicide earlier.

    How do parents survive such a cruel tragedy? How do you move on with a dagger stuck in the depths of your soul?

    I asked the mother to tell me about her son. What was he like? What do you miss most about him? In tears she described a boy who loved life and possessed the ability to make her laugh and smile. I honestly believe she has not talked about him for a while, after he ended his life in a moment of anguish. It almost seemed she was waiting for that chance to remember him in a positive light—and putting those delightful memories into words was a breath of fresh air for her. “I hope you remember him for who he was before his desperate final act,” I said, sharing my wish that they would not define his personhood in light of his suicide. Their hearts’ landscape, of course, inexorably shifted the day their son took his life. Yet I pray that they choose to believe that the suicide is not all of their lives; it doesn’t have to define their family history; they don’t have to give in to the temptation of blaming themselves (Somehow, we could have stopped it. If we would have (fill in the blank) … he would not have killed himself.).

    More than anything, I pray they keep turning to the…

  58. Continuation: Suicide: The Most Tragic Result of Untreated Chronic Depression and Mental Ilness:

    More than anything, I pray these couple keep turning to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of all mercies and the God of all comfort. He is the living God who is now tenderly holding the hearts of the Warren family, and who is lovingly embracing their souls, as they grieve the death of their youngest son Matthew. He is the God who creates beauty out of ashes.
    As someone who had suffered depression and pain that bore no relationship to reality, but which could become so exquisite, that at times I desperately begged for death, I do understand the seduction (if I may use this word) of suicide.
    Some people say those who attempt suicide are selfish. But unless they have experienced utter soul torture and are stuck with a sick brain, they shouldn’t judge so quickly. If anything they should rejoice that suicide is only a topic they comment about and never a reality they have to fight against. They are the lucky ones.
    “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?’” Pastor Rick shared. I read online a person’s response to this devastating news: People who commit suicide don’t go to heaven. Really? Who made that judgment? Can someone’s choice in a moment of despair determine his or her soul’s fate? Doesn’t God’s heart shatter in pieces also over His children whose hearts writhe in relentless, unforgiving agony?
    How do you make people understand that death in itself doesn’t appeal to the depressive or mentally ill at all, but that you see it as the only escape out of a living nightmare, out of an existence deluged with despondency? How do you explain those moments when being alive equals every single second doused in anguish? How do you help others measure the agony that exceeds your capacity to bear,…

  59. page 3: Suicide: The Most Tragic Result of Chronic Depression and Mental Illness

    How do you help others measure the agony that exceeds your capacity to bear, that which cannot be assuaged by the love of our families, their prayers, our own prayers, promises from His Word, and your willpower? How do you describe your panic, your terror, as you start believing the lie that no relief will come—not in that moment, nor the next, not in the following hour, nor next month, and my God, have mercy on me, not ever?

    Many statistics about suicide are alarming and disheartening, but the most important one—and which should give us hope—involves the fact that 90 percent of people who die by suicide suffered a diagnosable and treatable psychiatric disorder or a mental illness at the time of their death. As someone put it: Suicide is the most tragic result of a mental illness. So if a person exhibits symptoms of a mental disorder, we can encourage him or her to seek psychiatric help.

    I don’t know or understand why the Lord did not choose to use what Pastor Rick described as “the best doctors, meds, counselors, and prayers of healing” to end his son’s “torture” wrought by his mental illness. I am sobered because He chose to use these same provisions to free me from the stranglehold of emotional disorder. Yet the truth remains that He was sovereign in Matthew’s life and is so in his death. He did not withhold His mercy from this young man, whom his father honored and will remember as one possessing incredible compassion, gentleness and brilliance.

    I pray the evil one will not succeed in using Matthew’s death to advance his lies. See, how can a good and powerful God allow this to happen? I pray that nobody will succumb to the temptation of suicide, because, believe me, truly the anguish will stop.

  60. page 4 Suicide: The Most Tragic Result of Untreated Chronic Depression and Mental Illness

    I hope that Matthew’s mental illness—that, alas, poisoned his gentle heart much of his short life—will not be wasted, and nor his family’s weeping; that somehow because of their experience, others who live with chronic depression and mental illnesses will receive more compassion and attention; and pave the way for those suffering in silence and shame to come out of hiding, fearing no stigma, and seek available help and take advantage of the Lord’s provisions for healing.

    Perhaps just like me and many others, by God’s grace, instead of bearing more moments of despair, many will know more moments of reprieve, hope and joy.

  61. Rosanne, I am so sorry. I’m just so sad about your loss and how it has changed your life. I have no words of comfort. I just want you to know that it matters very much to me. I so wish I could take your pain away. Thank you for letting us know and letting us hurt with you. I wish I could hug you.

  62. Jo Lee, very good. I love this statement,”As someone who had suffered depression and pain that bore no relationship to reality, but which could become so exquisite, that at times I desperately begged for death, I do understand the seduction (if I may use this word) of suicide.” Depression and pain bears no relationship to reality. Good point. Our pain can so distort what is real. The seduction of suicide. Never heard put like that but it is seductive. Thanks for the visual you gave me. Very well written…every word of it.

  63. I’d like to add something to the comment (#44) I made earlier because I feel God putting it on my heart to do so. I hope this will encourage those who have lost a loved one to suicide. I know it did for me. I am bipolar and I had a friend years ago who struggled with mental illness just like myself. We would pray together about it and try to encourage one another. 11 years ago, he committed suicide and it broke my heart. Caused me to struggle with some depression for a long time. I walked that journey with God asking Him why? He was a Christian, had asked Jesus to be His Savior and was baptized. I said, “God didn’t you tell us you wouldn’t give us more than we could handle?” I too struggled with what people say about suicide, and asked God to somehow show me that my friend was okay. That night I had a dream about him. It was more of a vision coming out of dream. He was dressed in a bright white gown, very bright. He hugged me and told me he was okay. Being the doubting human being that I am, I asked God to give me one more sign that my friend was okay. This time it was a dream. He was in the foyer of my church handing out purple flowers from Heaven to people. I believe that was from God. You see…. God is bigger than our black and white interpretations of Scripture. People may ask God for help and He is there to help, but they can still make a wrong decision because of their torment. I don’t believe God would send a Christian to hell for it. It’s no worse than any other sin.. I hope that brings some comfort to people who are grieving right now..

  64. Susan Dalton 2013-04-10 at 9:47 pm

    Sometimes I have seen at the bottom of web pages on my computer the message, “Done, but with errors.” The web page would come up and it would appear nothing was wrong with the page – but, the message was there – “Done, but with errors.” Being curious, I “Binged” Done, but with errors. There are three things I read that can cause the message, “Done, but with errors.” One, Code Error. The progammer fails to tell the computer something necessary for the computer to build the web page. Two, Code Compatibility, “Every web browser has its own way of processing web pages and, despite a programmer’s best effort, a web page may not work with all browsers.” Three, Turned Off Support. Programming languages such as ActiveAx and Java are disabled. I think sometimes, we, as humans, are much like the web page that displays, “Done, but with errors.” The browser manages to compensate and get the web page up, despite errors. Definitely, concerning God, there is no Code Error on His part. He is not leaving out necessary information so we can fail. Code Compatiblity can be a problem. “Every web browser has its own way of processing web pages and, despite a programmer’s best effort, a web page may not work with all browsers.” More times than not, the web page does display. The page may display through the Holy Spirit or through memory or teachings of the Word, or through people reaching out to other people. Turned Off Support reminds me of Jesus telling the disciples to pray lest they enter temptation. Sometimes, “Turned Off Support” may be when every thing is no longer there. Maybe family is turned off, or friends, or work, or money, or health, or prosperity, or self-reliance, or… When the hour of the power of darkness works, and all support is turned off, it will then be only you in that darkness, – or only you and Jesus – and with Jesus there is Light even in gross darkness. He will be there, He will not leave you alone. To the Warren…

  65. My son who has been through major depressive episodes usually finds strength in this verse Romans 8:28. “ALLTHINGS WORK TOGETHER FOR GOOD TO THEM THAT LOVE GOD.. CALLED ACCORDING TO HIS PURPOSE”.. God’s purpose for each individual is different but they are for our utmost Good. We walk by Faith and not by Sight.. so even the tribulation of depression is working a far Greater Glory than we can ever imagine and think.. I think those of us who go through it and even faintingly try to hold on to God,.. He is going to look at our weekest attempts to have faith and say “well done you good and faithful servant…”. Our faltering faith which is much beyond our capability may even surpass the faith of a martyr who has full control of his mind…in God’s sight.

  66. Lynne Mariotti 2013-04-11 at 6:40 pm

    What an article, a depth of pure understanding. My daughter is severely mentally ill with Bipolar, Boderline Personality. O.C.D., and a few other things. The pain she suffers every day takes my breath away. My faith has never wavered, but I cry to God for help, as I watch helplessly as her illness is consuming her. Every morning I hold my breath if she will still be alive. She’s 23, this is supposed to be the best part of her life. What happened? Why does God keep letting her go further down and us with her? I wish I could grasp the reality of it.My daughter who was brought up in faith and the church most of her life, simply says, there is no God that would allow this. Reading the stories about Angie and Matthew, there are no words to convey the horror of all of it. Thank you.

  67. “My daughter who was brought up in faith and the church most of her life, simply says, there is no God that would allow this.”

    See, this is the sort of thing that troubles me.

    No one seems to want to admit that a great deal of what we call mental illness may have its root (or be worsened by) having an angry, bitter attitude against God for whatever He’s allowed in our lives.

    But even just saying this is considered wrong and even cruel, and the idea is simply outright dismissed without even considering this angle.

    I think it’s very easy to call everything ‘mental illness’ these days, because it removes the responsibility from us and puts it onto something else, something that we have no control over.

    The truth is that we have a great deal more control than we think or are willing to admit. There’s a world of difference and distance between thinking of suicide and going through with it. And going through with it is a choice.

    Again, I realize no one wants to hear this. But it’s the truth. It’s an ugly and tragic truth, but truth nonetheless.

  68. Lynne Mariotti 2013-04-12 at 7:23 am

    I am truly sorry you are ignorant of mental illness that is genetically passed down, to which my daughter has been tested. Wish you could live in her skin for a day, just a day, then maybe you would have some compassion. There isn’t even a point in trying to make someone like you understand when you are so closed minded.

  69. @ Lynn –

    See? That’s exactly what I mean. One doesn’t dare say anything of this sort without being met with such vitriol. I am ignorant of nothing.

    There’s nothing worse than the ‘You haven’t suffered!’ angle. You know nothing about me. One person’s suffering/situation has no bearing on another’s. It’s not a contest to see who’s had things worse.

    But if you must go there, I’ve been depressed, especially since I’ve been un/under-employed for nearly 6 years now. That’s as far as I’m going to get into in a public blog.

    Wishing for me to suffer worse doesn’t change your situation and it doesn’t change the true things I have said on this matter.

    All it does is highlight my point, which is that how we handle life situations has a huge bearing on our spiritual and mental well being. Scripture upholds that view, and all your nastiness toward me doesn’t change that fact.

  70. @ Greg (Tiribulus) –

    Thank you! It’s good to see at least one person here gets it.

    Sheesh, but this thread has grown frustrating. It might be time just to stop reading it.

  71. None of us are doctors. I don’t think? I’m not. But it seems most of us are experienced with “mental illness”, either because we have been the patient or live with the patient or both. Still, I think when we give our experiences we are not saying EVER that all experiences are the same. There’s just not enough room here to say all that is on your heart. It’s like we’re getting soundbites of how each person feels straight from the heart. The limitations of the written words leave us, well, limited. It’s hard to be direct, knowing your compassionate side cannot be seen or heard. And soundbites cause us to jump to conclusions. The reality is depression starts somewhere. In it’s most minimal state we have “others” profiting from labeling such people for a lifetime of horror and “others” profiting BIG TIME from the drugs that are prescribed. Now don’t take out of context that I’m discouraging anyone from getting evaluated or taking medication. I am suggesting that when we are in a vulnerable state, when we are most fragile, evil takes advantage. That’s just Evil 101. Or maybe I should call it Temptation 101? Evil wants to give us what we think we need and give it to us quickly. On the spot. You know, that’s why they say we need patient advocates when we are seriously ill because we are so vulnerable, maybe out of our heads and we need someone that knows us, from when we are in our right minds, to stand up for us, to take charge when something is being offered that the advocate knows we would decline in our sober state. And I’m starting to think that family is not the best advocate because they are too close. Like therapists don’t treat family? We crater over seeing our family in dire pain and the patient is able to manipulate (whether intentionally or intentional by default because they are out of their head with pain) family better than friends. So the patient needs an advocate or two or three that can be strong and has good discernment and wisdom.

  72. Rebecca, back in #21, mentioned the difference between being trained to reject and escape suffering, and being trained to expect and accept it. She gave the example of soldiers in battle. I even rememer hearing that at least one of those terrorists who was waterboarded had been trained to endure it, knowing it wouldn’t really kill him, -he would tap out the seconds with his fingers.

    But do Christians get the training we need for our spiritual warfare? Or do we just fall in line with the secular culture that has pleasure and self-determination as its end?

    There seems to be a huge gap in Christian teaching about how to handle suffering. (whether we are the one enduring the affliction, like Jesus on the cross, or the ones who stand by, like Mary and John at the foot of the cross). I think Catholicism could offer something here. I’ve never had to deal with emotional disorders, but my faith has been a help, not a problem, to other kinds of suffering.

    The current Theology Unplugged series is on Catholicism. I think it would be wonderful if Michael did one program on redemptive suffering. It’s one of the most beautiful and least understood aspects of Catholicism. Cath. doesn’t teach that we seek out suffering, but when it is indeed unavoidable, there can be deep meaning in it. It’s not suffering to atone for our sins, in the stead of Christ’s suffering. It’s not just, “oh, well, there must be some good reason for this we don’t know about.” It’s that, when Christ redeemed us, He also redeemed our suffering. So that it doesn’t have to be meaningless. In His Mercy, by making us members of His Body, our suffering is united to His Suffering, and we are able, in a mysterious way, to offer up our sufferings for the salvation of our fellow man. All by virtue of being a member of Christ’s Body. It’s by His Grace that our sufferings have meaning. Real, divine meaning.

  73. I am very concerned about the labeling of people, especially children and the prescriptions that are written daily in this country. This is not a scientific observation. This is deep in my gut. I like to peel back things to see them in their original state before they got all complicated. I like to see if I can recreate their journey in order to see what might have been missed before? You know, to spot the first detour? When I hear about any kind of struggle and know a person in need, I want to know what they have done thus far about it. And then I want to know what damage has been done to them since their journey began? You just can’t customize a plan without knowing these things. I’m trying to say, I don’t make snap judgments but my experience is real and I think I am qualified to speak to trends I have seen. When my grandson was 4-5, shortly after his dad had committed suicide, he became very OCD-like. Shoes laces not lined up properly caused many a meltdown. For some odd reason he kept his blankie in the fridge? He had major outbursts and screaming that he didn’t know what was wrong with him. Just an emotional basket case. Really condensing this here. After therapy with various counselors, he became a patient of this psychiatrist who was well seasoned. He had years of experience with kids like my grandson. He puts him on meds. My grandson gets worse and one day the little fellow breaks the entry hall mirror, screaming, “why am I like this?”. Long story short, my daughter senses the prescribed med is really throwing him off. She stops the meds. He continued with some destructive behavior for a while. He has turned 18 and will graduate in May. He has done missionary work out of the country as well as quick trips to Galveston to minister to the homeless. He loves his friends and they love him. Moral of this story? Too many doctors treat patients as one size fits all. Before there is any rapport built with the patient, here is the script. Next?

  74. Another experience. I have a friend that tried to commit suicide in her sixties. As soon as she overdosed, she panicked & dialed 911. She was placed on various meds. She really struggle & wasn’t making progress. One day, to the horror of her adult sons, she announced she was tossing all her meds in the trash. Of course, they were deeply afraid she’d try to kill herself. She didn’t. But she did do something she didn’t want to do, she made an appointment with a Christian counselor. Said she went faithfully every week for three years. She screamed & cried it all out. She claims it was the hardest three years of her life. But it saved her life. The meds were simply a quick fix, a way often for doctors to shelve people. Yes, I believe many many doctors are trained that way. They do think they are being humane. My son in law who committed suicide was originally placed on Interferon for Hep C virus. No one told the family that he could become suicidal because of the meds. We learned about this later. He was suppose to be refused this med unless he could document he was under the care of a therapist. He was not. And he was never monitored while on this med. Never questioned. After the funeral, my daughter tried to reach his attending physician. She never talked to him because he never returned her calls. I went to my neuro for a check up. I tried to think of everything that I am experiencing that might be a neuro problem. Neuro thinks some facial & ear pain I’m having are migraine & gave me a RX for it. I asked him about side effects. Will I need a liver transplant or how about suicidal feelings? He laughed & said no serious side effects other than some experience weight loss. Hmm. I pick up my meds & guess what is right there in print? Can cause suicidal thoughts. When I get the head pain, it can be a solid week on the couch with constant knife like stabbing in my head & ear. Nothing works. But I don’t take those meds. WARNING! DO NOT STOP YOUR MEDS. CONSULT YOUR DOCTOR…

  75. Hi, Greg (Tiribulus):

    Irene the Friendly Catholic here. (: Completely understand. That wasn’t me up in #55, God love her.

    I can’t stand leaving my I’s lowercase, and I’ve been around here long enough to know that the count for the character limit in comments is off by about 70-80, so that if you use all your characters, your comment will not be entirely posted.

    I did see your reply to that Irene, and I wondered if I should clarify or not, but I figured you really did mean to pray for the person who wrote it, whether it was me or not. So I decided to say humble and not assume it was about me.

    Anyway, to the Irene in #55, I will pray for you, and I’m sure Greg still will, too.

  76. @ 88 Rebecca –

    Thank you! This is exactly the sort of thing I’m thinking of.

    Here we’ve got a very young child enduring an emotional blow he cannot even fully understand, much less handle. How could he NOT have emotional/behavioral problems after enduring something like this?

    But conventional wisdom says only. ‘Let’s put him on meds because he’s mentally ill’. He’s not mentally ill! He’s just lost his father, he’s surrounded by other people who are behaving strangely (in his perception) because they are also grieving this loss, his normal routines have been turned upside down – how on earth do we expect him to behave “normally”?!

    But again, we hear something like this and immediately label the person “mentally ill” and push drugs on them, as if drugs magically cure the pain and confusion. It’s just mind boggling to me.

    (And yet again, we can’t say any of these things, because we’ll be called ‘unfeeling’ or ‘ignorant about mental illness’ and all the rest.)

  77. We have to know in this greedy culture that there will be those that agree we deserve a immediate solution to our physical pain. And they give it to us. But there are now studies that show we take something for pain so quickly we never learn what we can handle, how far we can get. And it’s like that cell phone battery. You’re told when it’s new to let it go dead the first time in order for it to have a longer life. Like it gets a set point and returns to that set point each time. The shorter the battery life, the less talk time, the longer, the more talk time. Those that study pain management have seen that when we take pain meds we are setting a pain threshold for our bodies. And often, we set it earlier than needed. Problem is that at the onset of pain, we reach for the meds each time right at that set point. And our brain is cooperating with that and transmitting back that we can’t handle anymore. And if you think we don’t do that for emotional pain, think again. We’ve had a culture that, for many of you, has been telling us we don’t have to feel any kind of pain since before you were born. I see it with my kids and their friends. Nobody is as tough as we were growing up. It’s like each generation is getting more and more fragile.

    Now that said, I’d like to speak to those that have serious debilitating, physical pain. Let’s call this part one of serious pain. I have had such pain. I know what it’s like to be afraid to move. I know how depressing it can get. Life is passing you by and there you are flat on your back. The difference between you & me is, I don’t have chronic pain like you do. My serious pain never has gone past two weeks before it subsides. Exception, I have knee pain that is making it hard to get around. But it still doesn’t compare to what you have described. After reading your story of pain, the next morning I got up out of my chair. My knee hurt so bad and I was so annoyed by it. Why does it have to hurt so much? To be continued.

  78. Part two of serious pain: I was so gripey and complaining about how much it interferes with all I want and need to do. Then I stopped dead in my tracks and thought of you. You’re suffering that is never ending, standing, sitting or lying in bed. I get it. It’s so hard and the few that haven’t experienced it know little about how you feel about being stuck with it and in it. It’s so easy for us to tell you to find the joy in your suffering. I get up out of my chair and whine. I am so sorry. I never ever want to minimize your suffering. I don’t know the help you have been given? Here I go peeling back the layers. But you need a men’s accountability group to minister to you as much as any man. By the way, my son in law is a doctor, highly specialized in dermatology and while living in another town, his accountability partner, his mentor was a mail man. He loved meeting with this brother. Anyway, I hope you and others in your situation has a team of those that are there to nurture you. By reading God’s word or helping you leave the house for short drives. Not to lecture you but to nurture you with their gifts and talents. And I hope, dear brother, that you allow them the joy of doing that. Watch them, absorb what they are doing in case God, in His mercy, heals you and you are called upon to help another. If you don’t have some good men like that, the next person that comes into your room, turn your head if you are able and tell them to find you some Godly men who have wisdom and led righteous lives and love the Lord. Tell them to find those men STAT! You must be willing to connect with them. You have to see them as your survival kit. You need these men to feed your soul. You must be nourished. You cannot do this pain any justice without nourishment. Maybe you won’t feel like company. Tell them. But let them come anyway and just sit. Tell them you aren’t up for conversation. To be continued

  79. Part three of serious pain: I can’t encourage you enough to let these men minister to you. You’re in this terrible cycle, injury, severe pain, diagnosis, meds for pain, meds work, meds stop working, new meds administered, job loss, insurance issues and lastly, burden on family and then the guilt associated with that. And the cycle starts all over again each time a doctor makes a change. Oh, has anyone mentioned how BORING being sick everyday is? It wouldn’t be right for me tell you what to do about any of it except the family part. That is one thing you can control. Let them have time off. Time off to recover. And time off to ease your guilt. Allow them to find you these good men to care for you. Your pain is exhausting. That’s one thing people don’t understand. They want to encourage you to try, just try. But the more pain you have, the more you get exhausted and the more you want to rest and the more you rest, the more muscle tone you lose and the harder it is the next time to try. You must find someone you trust to help you break all these cycles while not feeling judged by them. NOT FAMILY! Please do not allow your pain to identify you. For now, don’t try to do anything more than let others in.That’s all. You can’t ask more than that of a starving man. Just let others feed you. I would also recommend oneplace.com. If you don’t know about it, you can find sermons and Christian talk radio and all sorts of Christian programming any time of the day or night. You can find programs that address your issues. I really think it would be helpful if you start listening to encouraging talks that have nothing to do with your pain. The reason is so you can focus on something other than your pain, sort of mainstream your mind, so to speak. For a few minutes you can be “normal”. Bless you and all those with this kind of pain. I pray you will find a way to manage it to the Glory of God and one day, you might see it as a blessing. I pray you find a better way to live with the pain.

  80. Lynne Mariotti said “My daughter who was brought up in faith and the church most of her life, simply says, there is no God that would allow this.”

    I can fully understand this statement and no one can judge this as lack of faith.. My son who has been diagnosed with OCD and mood disorder with major depression at 14+..He had been an ardent believer, loved the Lord with all his heart want’s to be a missionary , testified in school to students and teachers wrote blogs on internet on various theological topics was intereseted in apologetics.. a lot for a14 year old!!!. After he was taken over by the illness, the worst part was his inablility to believe that God loved him, felt totally hopeless.. this is the worst part of the illness which is what makes it so dreadful compared to any other illness.. He made several attempts to take his life but the Lord has kept him.. But the Wonder of it All.. this expereince has caused us to seek the Lord even more not just for healing but what HE wants to do with our lives.. we are daily learning to submit to His authority over every nook and conrner of our lives.. we are reaching out to other members of the church..putting our pain behind… It has been a wonderful experince!! seeing God work.. For the last 8 months our son has gotten better.. inspite of no therapy ( he did not like it) and minimum dosage of prozac.. even now he gets those dark thoughts but is learning to not pay attention to them… but to divert to something he likes to do.. This has been possible only becasue of the God’s touch.. no amount of advise could have brought it about.. Please do not give up praying as well as surrendering our lives ( this is for care takers..). praying for you all..be STRONG and of GOOD COURAGE!!

  81. God never allows pain for no good reason.

  82. To Lynne,
    I am truly sorry you some of the comments to your post have not be anything except love and encouragment. There are those (me) who understand how you feel, and I’m telling you I will pray for you and your daughter. I’m bipolar and I went through a long time of wondering if God really loved me or not. I know He does though. Your daughter is in pain, you are in pain, and you need love, kindness and understanding, not people giving you their opinions on how mental illness partially has to do with sin… we’re all sinful, and we need to encourage you and pray for you….

  83. @ Sheri –

    Those of us who have given our view on the issue(s) have just as much right as anyone else to do so. Trying to shame us into silence by calling us “unloving” is wrong. I will not be silent and accept that treatment.

    ***

    Love includes saying truth, even when it’s hard.

  84. I am in no way even hinting that mental illness has to do with sin.. Jesus paid it All!!.. i am only talking of God’s higher purpose and surrendering to that Higher purpose , seeking hard after Him and letting Him be our All in All.. This has worked wonders in our family and specially our son.. Who is a walking miracle to many who know him..

  85. Dorothy,

    I am glad your son’s situation has improved! All the best to you and your family.

  86. Dorothy, your story, your son’s story gives us hope. Thank you for sharing good news!

  87. I am also not in any way saying that Everyone will have the experience.. just draw near to Him and trust that He is taking care of it all.. I believe He took care of Matthew while he was on earth and taking care of him while he is in Heaven.

  88. Moe,
    I was just trying to encourage this woman who seems to be in pain. You have a right to your opinion, and I have a right to mine. My intentions were not to shame anyone. Take care and God Bless, Sheri

  89. “Americans make up just 5% of the world’s population, yet they consume over 40% of the drugs that are produced. Do you think that the billions and billions of dollars that the drug companies spend on television and other advertising have influenced this outcome? When your children went off to high school, you probably told them “Just say ‘No!’ to drugs!” Yet when you watch television, the drugs companies are selling you on the proposition to “Just say ‘Yes!’ to drugs. Only two countries, New Zealand and the United States allow drug commercials on television. The FDA approved drug commercials in the U.S. in 1999. Pharmaceutical companies spend nearly $5 billion annually on direct to consumer advertising on television. The average American watches nearly 16 hours of drug commercials every year. That works out to 1920 drug commercials every year. Over 20 years that will amount to 320 hours (8 – 40 work weeks) watching 38,400 drug commercials. Americans are being brainwashed into believing that drugs are the panacea for all problems, physical and emotional. Were you aware that the federal and state governments are working in concert with the pharmaceutical companies to promote the use of psychiatric drugs in children?
    Guess who devises these mental health screening tests and promotes their use? The drug companies and their in-house psychiatrists do. Guess who funds these school screening programs? Of course, it’s the drug companies.”

    The above statements are from an article written by Steven F. Hotze, M.D. I found the link on Voddie Baucham’s facebook page. It’s worth a read. I hope you all read it so you will know you are getting both sides of the story, not just your doctor’s or your child’s doctor’s, in order to make future informed decisions about mental illness and how to treat it.

    http://minutemennews.com/2013/04/protect-your-children-nearly-9-million-on-psychiatric-meds-for-mental-problems/

  90. “A few years ago, Jenelle got food poisoning and was given a neuroleptic drug called Reglan to suppress vomiting. The drug gave her a movement disorder called tardive dyskinesia almost right away. Because of her strange body movements caused by the drug, she was misdiagnosed as having a psychiatric problem & given other psychiatric drugs called Thorazine, Haldol, & Xanax which worsened her physical & mental condition. The psychiatric drugs she was given that are called neuroleptics (Reglan, Thorazine, & Haldol) damaged the parts of her nervous system responsible for motor control enough to make her dependent on a wheelchair.” Although I am not in a wheelchair like Jenelle, I have a much lesser form of this movement disorder this article discusses. And yes, I can recall, previous to any symptoms, taking certain prescriptions that clearly worked in my brain to suppress another symptom. Simply put, they altered my brain chemistry in order to control another a symptom. I can’t prove that these 2 medications are the culprits. But my symptoms manifested themselves shortly after taking these meds. In her story, the very thing that was causing her symptoms, the medication to suppress her vomiting from food poisoning which happens to be a NEUROleptic, a psychiatric drug, she was given other psychiatric drugs to manage the side effects of the FIRST psychiatric drug. No one was trying to hurt her. They were trying to help her. She was in the ER most of the time & the attending staff as most are were ignorant of these serious side effects. And like most doctors, well if the first one doesn’t work, they try another one in the same or similar family of drugs. Poor thing couldn’t get away from the evil source. Her body was bombarded with trial & error drugs. Poor Rick Warren. All he wanted to be able to say in regard to Matthew’s illness was that he left no stone unturned. That enthusiasm & devotion may have sealed Matthew’s fate? http://www.antipsychiatry.org/jenelle.htm

  91. Rebecca,

    Just a side note to your last post about drugs. I can’t help but wonder about the wisdom of taking an anti depressant, for example, that can cause suicidal thoughts.

    The long list of horrible side effects which often accompanies those drug are very frightening. Is the cure sometimes worse then the disease?

    Another one that I have really noticed is the asthma drugs that “may increase your risk of death from asthma.

  92. cherylu, that’s what we have to ask, “is the cure worse than the disease?”. And in this world of information, we must take advantage of all this readily available knowledge to make a truly informed decision. And we need to do it from the “get go”, not after we are exhausted and cannot reason anymore.

  93. Greg, I got a comment you addressed to me in my inbox. But it’s not showing up here for some reason? So when it does I will respond later. Thanks

  94. Steve Skeete 2013-04-13 at 5:57 pm

    “And we have to accept this sometimes dark, violent, God as the one who loved him (and Angie) more than we can ever possibly imagine”.

    “Who is at fault? God is… a God who did not show up in the way we all desired and prayed he would. His ways are not our ways. He is the one who works all things after the counsel of his will (Eph. 1:11), including leaving countless people in pain as they cry out to him for relief”.

    I wish to respectfully submit, that the above quotes sound more like the introduction to the “God Delusion” than the writings of a Christian minister seeking to bring comfort to the bereaved. And since, apparently, “now is not the time to discuss theology”, permit me to have a say nevertheless.

    I am in the unfortunate position of having known several persons who have committed suicide. Among them were two young men, one provided me with free tuition in a difficult subject, the other, struggled for years with a cocaine addiction.

    On none of these occasions did I sense God to be “dark or “violent”, (what a horrible thought) nor did I consider him to be at “fault”. So when “theology” time resumes, I would sincerely like bro. Patton to direct us to those places in the Bible where we find this “dark” God.

    Of course, God “winks” at those occasions when we scream and shout at him because we, or someone we love, have fallen “into a deep, dark, bottomless pit”. He also, no doubt, shares our pain in our “seasons of distress and grief”.

    I believe, however, that it may be wise to follow the wisdom gleaned form the book of Job , lest after we have fussed and fumed we find ourselves having to “despise (ourselves) and repent in dust and ashes”, particularly when we have already acknowledged that “his ways” are not only not “our ways” but are considerably “higher”.

  95. Someone finally touched on the ‘it’s God’s fault’ comment. I was beginning to wonder if I was the only one who read that.

  96. @ Steve #112 –

    Thank you for saying all of this.

    I understand having these feelings while we are in the depths of despair. Believe me, I have been there. But this did sound like God just abandons his followers and for no reason.

    As I said in previous comments, people make choices. People choose to kill themselves. It’s not God’s doing. That’s hard to hear. I know that. I wish I didn’t have to say it, but I must.

    It’s easier to blame God for “taking” someone than it is to face the fact that they did this to themselves.

    It’s also easier to blame mental illness so that there is no personal responsibility involved. I’m not saying some mental illness doesn’t exist. But EVERYTHING is not a mental illness. Nor can we use that as an excuse to deny other issues that may be going on in a person’s life.

    And again, no one wants to hear this, and will instead choose to be angry at me for saying it. That is painful, but I understand that’s the way it will be. The truth is more important than my own personal feelings.

    ***

    I also find it frustrating to hear “Now is not the time…” to say this or that. (Especially theology, and among Christians! What other recourse do we have, other than the truth of God’s teachings to get us through these horrible difficulties?)

    The only thing this does is shut down discussion. Again, it’s a desire to not hear the truth – a truth that may be painful.

  97. Greg (Tiribulus)says,”Don’t even get me started Rebecca. You are absolutely correct and one of the horrible consequences is that people with real physiological issues that are actually legitimately helped by medication are swirled into this mix and it makes the situation a hundred times harder for the body of Christ to discern what ministry approaches to take with a given individual. Rebecca says,”That’s what tics me off the most. The real victims of mental illness get exploited or fall through the cracks”

    Greg says,”MANY times SIN IS the problem for which no pill could ever be the answer. There was a Saturday Night Live skit when I was kid 30 years ago called “TAKE A PILL” that was obviously intended to be funny, but turned out to be almost prophetic. No matter WHAT the situation “TAKE A PILL” is the immediate answer. The pharmaceutical companies would step over their own mother’s body for 10 bucks. Doctors, all kinds, can be hazardous to your health, REALLY hazardous sorry to say. All that said, we still cannot lose sight of the fact that by the common grace of our God their does remain honest caring doctors in this sick dying society who DO prescribe invaluable medications to people that DO work wonders on their psycho-physiological selves. I know some.” Rebecca says,”As do I. The ones that refuse to be wined and dined by Big Pharma are just as discouraged by it all. But they are getting fewer and far between. Even so, God love ’em, they’re there somewhere.”

    Greg says,”One of them in is an associate pastor in my church who is tremendously helped by the responsible usage of one these drugs, The right medication prescribed the right way does work.” Rebecca says,”I believe that.”

  98. Greg says,”Voddie Baucham Rebecca? You n I are REALLY gonna get along. He came to our church in Detroit a while back. I listen to him all the time. Great stuff on marriage and family. There’s a rock solid reformed southern baptist I wish we could clone about 10,000 times.” Rebecca says,”Voddie was formerly a pastor at my church. Missed him by about 2 years when I joined. My church is in the south part of the county while Voddie’s is in the north part, about a 50 minute drive. I am determined to visit his church one day…..soon. Yes, indeed, he is rock solid!”

    Greg says,”Here he is with our senior pastor.”
    http://gregnmary.gotdns.com/pix/1voddienchris.JPG

    Rebecca says,”Yep, that’s Voddie alright. Can’t miss him.”

    Greg says, “I am pale white, blond n blue before anybody wonders”. Rebecca says,”And they let you in? Just kidding”.

  99. Yeah, Greg got it. One can say Christ murder was Gods fault at the same time as saying that the ultimate cause which made the cross necessay was the sin of man. But when we are talking about a fallen world that God has lovingly chosen to remain involved in, God does very often bring about evil (though not as the ultimate cause) to accomplish a greater good.

    God was at fault for the death of my sister in so much as he is choosing not to rescue a torn broken soul who cried out to him day or night for deliverance. He sometimes does. But this time he did not. To say that God was not in control (though not meticulous) of events such as these creates an impotent God who has tied his hands until we are good enough, smart enough, or spiritual enough to meet him halfway. We are completely helpless, all of us. The reason why we have not alll pulled the trigger is because God’s purpose stayed our hand. His will works through sin or it does not work at alll.

  100. Oh what a tangled mess Patton is creating… No wonder you wanted to avoid theology. Don’t worry about me – I’m getting out of this conversation!

  101. @ Jesse –

    It really is becoming a mess. A frightening one, at that.

    ***

    @ Michael Patton –

    Once again, I am truly sorry about your sister.

    But please, please, at least for the sake of the other people here who are also struggling, do not say that this was God’s doing! It’s not as though she was passive in the situation, as one would be in an accident or as victim of a crime.

    As difficult as it is for me to say or you to hear it, your sister made the decision to kill herself. God did not do this, or even allow it in the sense that He allows other things over which we truly have no control!

    He DID give her options. If she knew Christ, she had the truth about Life, the Universe and Everything. She obviously had a caring brother and I’m sure parents or whoever else. And I don’t know the full situation, but I’m guessing she had other kinds of help offered to her. She chose another route.

    I’m sorry, but that’s the bottom line.

    No, I can’t figure out all of God’s ways in this world. But the things you keep saying make it sound like she had no part in it, couldn’t help it, and had no other choice because God had abandoned her. Maybe she felt that way and maybe you do too – it’s understandable, believe me! I have felt that way so many times during the horrible 6 years I’ve been without full time work!

    But it’s simply not true. And I have no right to take my own life in anger or anything else, and put upon my loved ones the pain you are now feeling.

    ***

    No one makes you murder anyone else. No one makes you murder yourself. No amount of claiming illness takes away your own responsibility in that choice.

    People here need to hear this, because believing that they have no responsibility in the matter is a lie – one that they dare not give in to, because there’s no turning back from it.

  102. Looks like I’m going to have to just remove myself from this post. It’s just gotten to be too much.

    All I can say to Christians is that if we don’t have hope in Christ for this life – as unbearably painful and difficult as it can be at times – then truly, what good is our faith? What do we even have to offer to the world?

  103. 1 of 6. “There but for the grace of God go I.” I am grateful that I accept God is in control. I am grateful that I accept that God’s ways are higher than mine. I will always struggle with children who have cancer, with parents who lose their children to drunk driving accidents, with toddlers that drown in the family swimming pool, with fathers who have fatal heart attacks before the age of 40, with adults & children that burn to death in a house fire, with children that are kidnapped only to be found decapitated, with a baby girl that has her mouth & nose duck taped in order to suffocate her so mommy can party hardy, with little children that are abused and terrorized their whole childhood by some adult, with little girls that are sold into sex slavery, with children eating dirt because they have no other food source, with children who are abandoned by their parents, with children that are bullied and never protected or defended….and on and on. I’m glad God’s ways are superior to mine. I need that. We all need that. If we knew what God knows, we’d have a problem. A serious problem.

  104. Mo,

    No offense taken. But you could hardly except me to change my view based on what you have said as 1) I can’t expect you to have insight into the situation with my sister, 2) this fits well into my theology of the two wills of God, and 3) it is by far, for me, the most emotionally satisfying of all the options.

    I do have two or three blog posts where I argue specifically for the view of the two wills of God (definitely nothing novel about this). This does not mean that human responsibility has no part. It simply means that often the best place to end is to say that God brought it about for his own glorious purpose, using the fallen condition of man to do whatever his hand had predestined to occur.

  105. Part 2 of 6 There was a time I wanted to know. But then I matured & in that maturity, I knew God would be seriously flawed if I understood what we call the “mysteries of God”. I need the Creator of the Universe to be all knowing & all powerful. I can recognize now that for me to share the same intellect as God would not be a good thing. So I’m glad I don’t understand Him much of the time. I expect not to understand. I’m not surprised at all I don’t understand. I am surprised that others expect to understand or to have God somehow explain it to them or reveal the answer to them by some supernatural means.

  106. 1 comment at a time. This is why we have to have character limits.

  107. Part 3 of 6. I understand grief. I understand loss. I understand anger. I understand not wanting to let go. I understand & believe with all my heart that tragedy is as God ordained as grace is. I cannot be at peace with all the evil in the world and CAN be at peace simultaneously with the fact that God knows what he is doing & I don’t. No, God does not have fault and no blame can be found in Him. But He is responsible for the outcome. He is responsible for not restraining evil. Heck, He’s responsible for not restraining us and our vulgar ways! And He accepts that responsibility.

  108. Part 4 of 6 There is a master plan that I am not privy to. I don’t know when my number is up. I don’t know if I’ll get that dreadful phone call. I don’t know if I will get the tests results that say “positive”. I don’t know if I’ll bury a child, a grandchild? I don’t know? At times it terrifies me. But in my anguish, I know it’s to be expected. And why? Because God’s kingdom is not reigning here on earth yet. Would we be blogging about suicide here if paradise was restored? Evil exists and because it does, it will visit somebody in the form of a tragedy. Hey? I’m a somebody.

  109. 5 of 6 I have known fear. I have known heartache. I have known plenty of anger. I have been on the receiving end and I have been on the giving end. I have worked hard to protect my family. I have been able to recover from my foolishness. Today, I got a hug from my daughter who tried to commit suicide in one of those dark hotel rooms four years ago. She failed. Today she is doing better than OK. Why was she spared? Why was I spared the grief of burying her? There’s only one word for it. Grace. Like you, I deserve nothing but God’s wrath. If I have a sliver of good, it’s ALL owing to God. Let’s get this straight. I’m not good. I’m bad. And every now and then my badness escalates and God has to hold me back from doing harm. He blocks me. He jumps in front of me. He tackles me. When I appear good to you, it’s because God restrains my bad. He holds me back and protects others from me and it’s all counted as grace. It’s not what I do. Even when I’m obedient, He enables that. He makes that possible. I need God to do good. I am 100% dependent on Him.

  110. Part 6 of 6 So why didn’t my daughter die? Why did we get grace? God is selective.There are times He selects some to have many second chances while others have but one chance. He gives grace to some parents who never provided good Godly parenting and then withholds grace from some parents that were wonderful examples of good Godly parents. None of know how and whom God picks and chooses to spare and whom not to spare. God does not restrain someone’s child from committing mass murder only later to foil the same heinous attempt of another’s child, sparing many lives. One parent has to live knowing that the child she held at her breast is a destroyer and crippler of many lives while the other lives with the agony and relief that the only life that day lost was her child’s. Different results for different folks. But one thing we all have in common, God does the picking. For those that have lost their children in horrifying ways, one of those ways being to suicide, all this sinner can reason is, “There but for the grace of God go I”. My daughter is alive. The glory is God’s.

  111. Rebecca has a hard time capping off on a subject that clearly has pushed more than a few buttons including mine. I’ve lost a son in law to suicide. My husband helped remove his remains that day. He didn’t want a stranger picking his pieces up. The paramedic lost her father to suicide and struggled greatly alongside my husband while cleaning the shed. I watched my grandsons grieve for years. I can’t say enough about that that was like. Ten years later my daughter tries to kill herself with an overdose. This is such an explosive topic and it has opened some wounds and made them fresh again. I see it good that we talk it out and read what others are feeling. I see this topic quite different from your norm in that it is up so close and personal to so many of us as the evidence shows from many that commented. Sorry I did not honor the character count or rules. I truly mean no offense and normally I’m not this rebellious but this was just a time when Rebecca didn’t really care.

  112. I have read your article Michael and the many desperate comments in reply and my heart is grieved and deeply saddened at what I read about our God.

    Yes I have known suicide in my family and am struggling to lift up a sister who has come close many times.
    I have also walked that path of deepest darkness and despair. Drowning in a sea of darkness with the waves overcoming me without any hope.

    UNTILL the day I met with Jesus. Ohh what a glorious light came into my life. Oh what a glorious power dispersing the darkness that overcame me. I learnt for the first time that God is LOVE and God is LIGHT. Ohh how I devoured His Word like a sponge believing it to be true.

    When those darkest moments try to descend upon me and I CRY OUT to Him His Word rises up within my belly dispelling the darkness. when lifes trials try to bring me down I lift up my voice as David and cry Why are you so downcast Oh my soul TRUST in the Lord.

    When the darkness comes i lift up my arms to heaven and i start to sing and glorify my King. Oh what a Joy what a strength comes from my love for Him. And the more I lift up my arms to Him the more He pours out His love to me.

    No Michael Our God is NOT a God of darkness but a GOD OF LIGHT and of HOPE and of STRENGTh and of Power and COMPASSION His Mercies are new every morning for those who will call on His Name.

    May all who are reading and feeling without hope and strength LOOk to Our God The Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ and only believe his promises. For He is not a man that He should lie and He has promised to be WITH US.

    PEACE PEACE PEACE to him whose MIND is stayed upon the Lord.

  113. I suffer from depression myself – I believe due to my physical pain, my use of prescription meds for that pain, the overuse of Xanax (which I have gotten under control and extreme remorse and conviction for past sins. That is the hardest part – dealing with the guilt and remorse. However – I may point out that part of my problem was too much navel gazing. Our culture has it so easy. Hot and cold running water, microwaves, dishwashers. There was a time when you may have been grieving but you had to get up and about or starve to death. I’m guilty of this – too much self absorption. This is not pointing fingers at anyone – just adding to the conversation. My sympathies to the Warren family.

  114. @Irene: Surely, for the Christian, being ‘In Christ’, (with the Cross) is a spirituality of “redemptive suffering.” Sadly a lost spiritual art and application in the postmodern “church” today!

    “Man achieves the fullness of prayer not when he expresses himself (so much of this blog post), but when he lets God be most fully present in prayer.” (John Paul II)

    Narcissism (self) has become “the” object.. even in the visible church!

  115. So many dynamics at play with suicide. All of us that have experienced depression long enough that it could be diagnosed as clinical depression, know what category we fall into, now or in the past. We have some that are diagnosed as clinically depressed due to behavioral changes brought on by medications prescribed for severe physical pain. There are those that truly have chemical imbalances creating depression and loss of reasoning. There is depression that is situational due to a traumatic experience , ie, divorce, death, etc. There are those that are angry & as they say, if turned inward it produces depression. Then, there are those that are more comfortable with the negative than the positive. They don’t want to get well & yet, nothing you suggest will work for them, so they say. I know. It’s hard to believe that some people who’s lives are of such poor quality & allow themselves to be stuck in it & don’t want out. That’s the elephant in the room. They are the person you avoid because the conversation is all about them. Their accomplishments lie in their failures. They can be church goers, they can cry out to God & they tell you that God is punishing them. Is that mental illness? Or is that conditioning? Those people are afraid to be overcomers because there is no guarantee. They want a guarantee they will be successful before they do the work. Of course, you can’t guarantee them that. They claim they are victims to everyone & taken advantage by all they meet. So, of course, they have no responsibility for their circumstances that bring about their depression. It’s everybody else’s fault. Depression is an old friend. Then there’s the over achiever. The person that raises the bar really high. I wonder how many people depressed can’t get past a failure? Do over achievers have more trouble putting their sins in the past? “I’m better than that. Failure is not an option!” Point is, you know who you are and what category you fall into, if you’re honest.

  116. just a comment on Michael Pattons remark about sometimes God not hearing our cries… what about the case when some one has any other terminally ill disease and God takes them inspite of prayers.. God always does the best.. the reason we think something is dark is becasue our affections , relationships and hopes are only tied to this world.. Sometimes God wants us to look beyond, before we consider ourselves ready for it….. This world is very important for only as long as God lets it be for an individual..
    From my experience i feel actions of people with mental illness is beyond there control.. but NOT ALL who commit suicide are mentally ill.. Let us leave it to the infinitely loving God to decide each case.. As long as we are here let us help care and encourage our loved ones .. i say encourage them lovingly and sometimes very firmly , continously, never give up. .. IT is very important for the CARE TAKERS to NEVER loose Hope. Take the help of church , friends freely as you cannot bear the burden alone. Ensure the loved one gets a healthy diet, buy them good clothes even if they refuse. Take them out doors. It they wont budge bring plants into the house. When i went through it for my son i think God was teaching me so many things and changing me ,not really anything much to my son. He was just being carried by God.. though we didn’t feel it that way at that time.. But now i KNOW if for sure.

  117. There are no verses in the Bible that condemn suicide in black and white but there verses that tell us that we can be tried for murder if we hated our brother wilfully..

    I know my son felt anger towards some people who really did him no harm in real life, but he had so called ” false memories” due to OCD and he found it very distressing that he actually was very angry with some people and couldn’t help it, he felt God will put him in hell for it.. so he felt no hope.. Clearly this is not logical thinking..( He had very clear experience of salvation through Grace before his illness). This is a clear proof that sometimes we really can’t hold the person responsible.. i think it should be a wake up call to those who are in the right mind to reach out as much as possible. If i know a brother or sister who is going through this terrible illness and i don’t reach out, i have more chances of being tried for murder than anybody else for actions which they commit because it is apparently too difficult for them.. May be it is an opportunity God is giving the fellow believers to practicaly demostrate their Faith and very humbly encourage those in distress.. we do our job and not worry about anything more than our job…

  118. Agree Greg. Example Judas Iscariot.. we know his suicide did not lead him to heaven..
    To further your point.. remember Jesus said ” if you were blind you would have no sin.. but since you claim you can see your sin remains” to the pharisees..

    The bottom line Suicide is SIN.. whether a person is made ACCOUNTABLE for it or not is only for GOD to judge.

    Since we cannot judge, it is best for those suffering the illness to be made to understand that God may hold them accountable… as a deterrent ( if they can understand or are able to reason). As for those who have already passed through the phase, we do not have to say that their loved one may not have gone to heaven if they had simply been rebellious..( and not really mentally ill) We just need to bow our heads in Grief and be humble that we do not deserve Heaven but for Grace.

  119. @Greg: Amen on #131!

    Of God’s eternal decree, and Predestination.

    11. God from all eternity did by his unchangeable counsel ordain whatsoever in time should come to pass: yet so, as thereby no violence is offered to the wills of the reasonable creatures, and neither the liberty nor the contingency of the second causes is taken away, but established rather

    (Irish Articles, 1615)

  120. Thank you. An online acquaintance shared this blog with me. She came to know me due to our family’s struggles shared on our blog and website of a Christian family living with (among other things) the depression and anxiety of my husband. I shared most intently on this subject from Feb-Mar of 2012 but the struggle remains as it has for the past 28 years. I have found myself an unwilling spokesperson for the Christian family trusting and loving through the dark times. Reading this post, while devastating, also gives hope that perhaps there might be a time when more believers understand the nature of this, and other related illnesses.

  121. Sometimes I wish the Angie in my life would end it all. 20+ years of dealing with their anguish. Continual circular conversations 24/7. Mental illness is hell on earth. I not afraid of hell. It is God’s plan for all in my family apparently. I can not minister of hope of Jesus to others. When there is no hope there is nothing left in this earthly life.

  122. I cried when Matthew Warren died. I wished I had met him. I wished I could have told him to hang on. I wished I could have told him “go ahead! Cry! Weep! Wail! Go hit rock bottom. I already soften the landing for you. Been there! Ugly place though.

    Now funny man Robin Williams’s suicide again reminds us how this overwhelming despair can manipulate a person to become too immobile, to stop living.

    I hate depression. I hate it so much and I hate the hell it made me go through.

    I am one of those who was able to crawl out of the pit. Scarred. Broken. But alive.

    The healing process was painful (I got separated from a bf, from my country, from my mom and dad, from my friends, ministry…) As I would always say “well, I feel stripped off everything! Am totally naked and poor right now”

    Little did I know then that – That was God’s healing process.

    I was destroyed first by God’s heavy hand so I can be built up by the same heavy hands.

    It is funny how I can tell my story without weeping now. Sometimes I shock myself – am I jaded or what? But when I hear other people going through what I went through, my heart breaks for I know the kind of turmoil it can do. But I also know that there is a light at the end of a very long, dark, pathetic tunnel. Healing is so possible.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Suicide, Mental Illness, Depression, and the Church – Justin Taylor - 2013-04-08

    […] Michael Patton writes an incredibly painful post about Matthew Warren, with no easy answers, about the torture of those who cannot clearly see the light and suffer the asphyxiation of hope. […]

  2. Mental Illness & Suicide: The Church Awakes | HeadHeartHand Blog - 2013-04-08

    […] The Asphyxiation of Hope Michael Patton attempts to describe the indescribable, and comes as close to it as anyone I’ve read. […]

  3. Suicide of a – Christian? | OneDaringJew - 2013-04-08

    […] (Comment on Michael Patton’s “Asphyxiation of Hope: Michael Warren.” […]

  4. Mental Illness & Suicide: The Church Awakes | Truth2Freedom's Blog - 2013-04-09

    […] The Asphyxiation of Hope Michael Patton attempts to describe the indescribable, and comes as close to it as anyone I’ve read. […]

  5. R.I.P. Matthew Warren (1986-2013) - 2013-04-09

    […] would like to recommend the article The Asphyxiation of Hope by Michael Patton, written on the occasion of Rick Warren’s youngest son’s […]

  6. Mental Illness: Resources for the Church | Exponential - 2013-04-11

    […] Michael Patton (of Credo House Ministries) The Asphyxiation of Hope: Matthew Warren (1986-2013) emotionally shares a firsthand perspective of of grief in the wake of […]

Leave a Reply