"Over the past 33 years we've been together through every kind of crisis. Kay and I've been privileged to hold your hands as you faced a crisis or loss, stand with you at gravesides, and prayed for you when ill. Today, we need your prayer for us," began the staff email from him.
Warren described Matthew as "an incredibly kind, gentle, and compassionate man," as those who grew up with him would also say.
"He had a brilliant intellect and a gift for sensing who was most in pain or most uncomfortable in a room. He'd then make a bee-line to that person to engage and encourage them," he continued. "But only those closest knew that he struggled from birth with mental illness, dark holes of depression, and even suicidal thoughts. In spite of America's best doctors, meds, counselors, and prayers for healing, the torture of mental illness never subsided. Today, after a fun evening together with Kay and me, in a momentary wave of despair at his home, he took his life."
Warren said that he and his wife often marveled at Matthew's courage "to keep moving in spite of relentless pain."
"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?' but he kept going for another decade," he wrote.
If you are a Christian and your heart doesn't go out to Warren and his family, something is wrong with you spiritually.
I don't care what you think about Warren's theology, his books, or how he combs his hair. The fact is, he lost a child. Few things can be more painful and nightmarish in this life.
To add insult to injury, just take a look at some of the comments by fellow "Christians" (professing ones at least) to the news. These are comments that were left on various Christian news websites under the Warren article:
Train up your children in the way, live a godly example with right priorities, care enough to home-school despite the great sacrifice involved, don't let them date unchaperoned, have daily family devotions, turn off the 1-eyed idiot, TRULY HAVE A PURPOSE-DRIVEN LIFE, and your children WILL NOT COMMIT SUICIDE, nor will they be involved in homosexuality, nor fornication.
He killed himself, it's much worse than fornication or homosexuality or Onanism or eating pork. He denied himself a chance to get better. If your kids need a chaperone to date, why do you let them date? They shouldn't be dating if they are not mature enough to control themselves.
Suicide happens soon after your stupid enough to read "The Purpose Driven Life".
Poor Matthew denies God's Love with suicide.
He could not save his own because Mr. Warren does not truly understand how his own heart works, how it is broken and the mechanism by which Jesus laid out the example of how to fix it. Matthew killed himself because he did not understand either. He was a victim of his own ignorance and the ignorance of his family, friends, society and Christians around him — presently!
Sisters and Brothers, we have not so learned Jesus Christ!
There were more comments like these, unfortunately. And they made me want to vomit.
"If Christians cannot extend grace through faithful presence within the body of believers, they will not be able to extend grace to those outside."
~ James Davison Hunter
I remember reading a book by Watchman Nee in my youth. In it, Nee made the remark that he observed a certain pattern throughout his life. Every time someone judged another person harshly for a mistake they made or because of something that went wrong in their lives, sometime later, the person who made those harsh judgments had something far worse happen to them.
Having been a Christian for over 30 years now, I've observed the same pattern.
Consequently, I fear for those who made these deplorable remarks. The Scriptures clearly teach that how we treat others is how the Lord will treat us. And if we have the knife out for one of His children, we will eventually end up falling on it ourselves.
Paul said you will reap what you sow. That's written in the heavens.
So be very, very careful how you respond to someone else's tragedy, mistakes, pain, or loss.
I read the New Testament once and Jesus taught that the entire Law and the Prophets is fulfilled in this one statement: Treat others the way you want to be treated in every circumstance.
Ergo, how would YOU want to be treated if you lost a child, a friend, a spouse, a parent, etc.?
How we respond to bad things that happen to others (be they tragedies, failures, or pain) is a barometer that reveals how well we know our Lord.
In fact, there may be no greater test.
So it seems to me anyway . . .
Frank Viola has helped thousands of people around the world to deepen their relationship with Jesus Christ and enter into a more vibrant and authentic experience of church. His mission is to help serious followers of Jesus know their Lord more deeply so they can experience real transformation and make a lasting impact. Viola has written many books on these themes, including God's Favorite Place on Earth, From Eternity to Here, and Jesus Manifesto (with Leonard Sweet). His blog, frankviola.org, is rated as one of the most popular in Christian circles today.