"Lead me on. Help me stand..."
Precious Lord, by Tommy Dorsey
I read the news story today about Pastor Rick Warren's son, Matthew, taking his own life after a life long battle with depression that never seemed to completely leave him. I saw the picture of the Pastor's face as he told of his loss to the world. His eyes were clouded, his face was covered with the unspeakable pain of the loss of a child he loved beyond words. My heart was breaking for him. I cannot begin to imagine what it must be like for him to walk up to a microphone with cameras flashing, like hungry sharks circling their prey, to tell the world of a pain that is so private and so immense. Some of those watching love this man. Some hate him and will take a perverted pleasure in his loss.
I know that he is a pastor of a huge mega-church. He is the author of one of the most widely read books on Christian living ever published. But, at this moment, in this hour of his deepest need, he is just a daddy, grieving the loss of his precious son. As a mother of four grown children, who have long ago left the nest, I know that a parent's love never diminishes for their child, no matter the age, no matter the "sins" they may commit, no matter the disappointments they bring into their lives and ours. A father's unconditional love and delight in a son or a daughter, gives us a glimpse into the tender, unending love of God our Father. We have no greater image of that love on earth, than that of a parent who never gives up on a wayward child, never stops praying, never stops hoping, never gets over the love that ties him in knots for this child, grown or not.
I have spent many a sleepless night praying for my children. There doesn't even have to be a specific need. I will just think of one of them, not knowing what is happening wherever they are, and I will find myself knocking at the door of heaven, reminding the Lord of the Universe, not to "forget" my son or my daughter. I am sure Pastor Warren spent many a sleepless night storming the doors and windows of heaven for this son that he so loved. No, I do not believe his prayers were not heard, that God ignored him or that He didn't care. I believe God, the Giver of the gift of this son to his father, loves both father and son more than we can even imagine. He is close to this man in his loss, even more than He has been in his triumphs, which have been phenomenal.
The God who called Rick Warren to be a pastor, first called him to be a father to this son. He hasn't forgotten him. He is right there, closer than the air we breath. He feels the depth of his loss. He doesn't expect him to quote some bible verses glibly and pretend this doesn't hurt like hell. He knows it does. He watched His own treasured, precious Son die an unspeakable death Himself. He is a God who knows our pain because He has lived it before we did. Our God is "close to the brokenhearted." He "collects all of our tears in a bottle" never to be forgotten. He is the God who walks with us "through the valley of the shadow of death". Because He is with me, I "will fear no evil."
May these beautiful and tender promises of our God be a comfort to Pastor Warren and his wife and family, right now.
Precious Lord, lead him on. Help him stand...