I am not an expert on depression. Lupus can cause it, or a lupus patient can certainly become depressed. But depression is not one of the conditions from which I have suffered throughout my life with serious illness. However, I am not unaware of what depression is and how devastating it can be in its many manifestations. So I was very sad to hear that Matthew Warren, 27, son of Rick Warren, Pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, CA, had committed suicide on Friday (April 5). As I write this, news is scant; most of the information I was able to find out came from secondary news sources and the text of an email letter Warren sent to church members (http://blog.christianitytoday.com/ctliveblog/archives/2013/04/rick_warrens_so.html). But we will hear more, no doubt, in the days ahead.
It has to be nightmarish for the entire Warren family and all those who know and care about them, and clearly it is a time of prayer and giving comfort. My prayers and hope for peace of soul and healing are with all who are mourning this deep loss. And my prayers are also with all those who suffer from depression.
Sometimes, in my conversations with others, there is an undercurrent or overt declaration that people of faith should not, do not suffer, especially not from depression, and that there must be something wrong with their faith if they do. Matthew Warren’s death is a reminder to us that, no matter how strong our faith or how strong our ties to a faith-based organization, depression, like other diseases and afflictions, can occur, sometimes with devastating effect.
Because we are Christians does not mean that we do not suffer and, certainly, depression can bring great suffering. Moreover, because we suffer does not mean we are unworthy Christians, failures, or shamed. There is no shame in seeking help, in facing depression. There is no shame, too, in caring for and about someone who suffers from depression. The important thing is that we try – to do what is healthful for ourselves and others, to extend comfort, and to stay close to God throughout the whole journey. From the letter he wrote to the Saddleback community, it sounds as if Pastor Warren and his family did whatever they could to help Matthew, an example of constant love and care to be admired.
I pray that the Warren family will not feel guilt, but will be blessed with support as they go through the next days and weeks. And I pray that anyone else who suffers from depression will be surrounded by support, love, and care, and find the help that they need. For God loves every one of His children. Every one.
Blessings for the day,