(Photo: Saddleback PiCS)
One year after his son's suicide, Rick Warren, author of the Purpose Driven Life and pastor at Saddleback Church in Southern California, said that his sermons during worship services beginning this Thursday evening, will be about how the message of Easter provides the answer to life's most devastating trials.
"Do you ever find yourself discouraged, or depressed or defeated, or even devastated by the circumstances in your life? If so, let me take a minute to encourage you about the pathway to hope and change and transformation that I've found in the Easter story of the resurrection of Jesus," said Warren during a video he released earlier this week (see video below).
"Five days after Easter last year, my 27-year-old son ended his own life. He battled mental illness since a child and despite the best doctors and meds and therapy, and prayers and love, he lost his battle for hope and our family was devastated."
Warren continued, "The day Matthew gave into the despair was the worst day of my life. During the past year, I've often been asked, 'How have you made it? How have you kept going in your pain?' and I've often replied, 'The answer is Easter.'"
On April 5, 2013, Matthew Warren fatally shot himself at his Orange County home with an unregistered gun that he bought on the Internet. Shortly after his death, Pastor Warren described his son as "an incredibly kind, gentle and compassionate man."
"He had a brilliant intellect and a gift for sensing who most in pain was or most uncomfortable in a room. He'd then make a bee-line to that person to engage and encourage them," said Warren at the time.
In the video released this week, Warren invites people to attend any one of more than 50 Easter services offered at 12 Southern California locations beginning Thursday through Sunday evening. The services will also be available for viewing online.
"You see the death, and the burial, and the resurrection of Jesus happened over three days. Friday was the day of suffering and pain and agony. Saturday was the day of doubt and confusion and misery. But Easter, that Sunday, was the day of hope and joy and victory," Warren explains.
"Here's the fact of life: You will face these three days over and over and over in your lifetime. And when you do, you'll find yourself asking, as I did, three fundamental questions. Number one, what do I do in my days of pain? Two, how do I get through my days of doubt and confusion. Three, how do I get to the days of joy and victory?
"The answer is Easter."
As part of his invitation to Easter services, Warren said he will "share the answers to these three great questions based on what I learned on the worst year of my life. This will be the most personal, the most powerful, and the most encouraging message I've ever shared."
Go to Saddleback.com for Easter service times and locations.