Rick Warren Shares Testimony After Son's Heartbreaking Suicide

Rick Warren Shares Testimony After Son's Heartbreaking Suicide

Pastor Rick Warren offered a heartfelt testimony after his son’s passing. His child, Matthew Warren, died of suicide. Rick sat down with Matt and Laurie Crouch on TBN to share his perspective on the sad story.


There’s a common saying in American society - no parent ever wants to outlive their children. Parents bring children into the world. We don’t want to bury them. We raise our children, teach them, all in hopes they will grow up to do great things and become great people. In time, possibly, they will leave behind children, our grandchildren, who will one day take their place. However, when our children pass away before such a time we can’t help but feel like they left the world too soon.

Rick can relate to this troubling experience. However sad he has been, the pastor did not stop praising God when Matthew died. Instead, his son’s death gave him a new and powerful direction for his ministry. This tragic event became a ministry that would serve to benefit others and became a book called The Purpose Driven Life: What On Earth Am I Here For?

Of course, getting to such a place took time. The initial heartache was far powerful.

“How do you choose joy when your heart is breaking in a million pieces?” Rick recounted at the beginning of the video.

He asked this of his wife Kay as they embraced in their son’s driveway, crying. The necklace she wore read, “Choose Joy.” Powerful words, but hard to accomplish in such a moment. Rick sure thought so as they watched their son be taken out of the home by paramedics.

Rick revealed in the video that he found support in his small group of believers, but most importantly through God. Finding support has been something Rick has needed since his son’s childhood. Since that time Matthew struggled with mental illness.

“He was clinically depressed as a child,” Rick remembered. He described his son as having a “tender heart and tortured mind.”

They went through intercessors, healers, various men and women of the faith, counselors, medications, and they prayed extensively. Nothing cured Matthew. Though Rick was more hopeful than his son that healing was possible. Matthew’s hopefulness for himself waned with time.

The father and pastor shared his understanding of an important truth - not everything gets healed while on Earth. “This isn’t Heaven,” he said. Rick spoke this to his son also.

Almost a day before his death, Matthew visited his folks one night. They had a good time hanging out. They played games, talked, and toward the end, Matthew remarked to his father how tired he felt.

“That was the last we heard from him,” Rick said. About a day later, they paid him a surprise visit to his home. They knew he was home, but he didn’t come to the door. They called the police and they found out what they prayed would never happen.

Pain and sorrow followed, but the Warrens put that pain to good use.

"The deeper the pain, the fewer words you use." Rick said to detail the ministry of presence. Showing up to support people by simply being present is oftentimes better than trying to heal with words.

Rick said he spent the next 16 weeks alone with God. He said he was with Kay or God. There was no preaching and no other commitments. His faith deepened and with time authored a book that he now uses to encourage others and help them find purpose - especially in the pain.

The pastor believes that the greatest witness to the world is how we handle pain. He believes your greatest ministry will come out of your deepest pain.

Today, Pastor Rick serves at Saddleback Valley Community Church, which he founded in 1980, and continues to use God’s truth to uplift others.

His testimony is a great lesson for us today, a reminder that we don’t need to speak a bunch of words when someone loses a loved one. And being present is sometimes more important than anything else.

“Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls:

Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.” Habakkuk 3:17-18

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