GRIEVING and the Battle for HOPE – #LC14 Rick & Kay Warren at HTB Leadership Conference, Royal Albert Hall



NG – How do you cope when your world is rocked- as it was when Matthew died?

RW – I wish we could be as unified in evangelism as we are in grief. Because there was an outpouring from the Body of Christ. Why can’t we be as unified about the mission?

KW – I will grieve for my son every day until I see him again. But we have to go through it together. This could tear us apart, though divorce is never an option for us.

RW – So we decided to grieve differently, together. Because the stats are against you staying together when you’ve lost a child. So, whatever you’re feeling is okay. Enter into a deeper level of grief.

Easiest death? Godly old people, ready to go
Then death of spouse, death of child, you’re not meant to outlive your children
Then suicide
Some rejoiced and laughed that their son had killed himself. What do you do?
And they are public figures, so they used social media to journal their journey because it would be public anyway.

Kay: I realised I am not alone, there are people grieving every night alone. Why be alone?
People want you to move on, to get over it.
I am not the same person now. Don’t tell me to move on. Unless you’ve held your child’s ashes, don’t give me your opinion.
Take the words ‘at least…’ out, when you’re trying to bring comfort.
‘at least you can marry again’
at least you can have more children’
Because that’s minimising it.

A generation ago people wore black for a year. Now, we can’t see it so easy. But people all around us have ungrieved mourning and bright clothes on.
grief is good.

RW: We want to STUFF grief. Especially men. But it will come out. There is no growth without loss, you’re going to lose a lot. We live on a broken planet. Or you get stuck. You can’t go around it you have to go through it.
Tears are not a sign of weakness but of love.
Matthew said at 17, ‘I know I’m going to go to heaven, why can’t I go now?’ He was incredibly courageous to live with pain.
Jesus wept.

KW: Unexpected learning? How much depressed believers have to teach us. many feel ashamed because the message they get is ‘pray more, confess sin’. Some of them are the most courageous people just to put one foot in front of another. Some people LIVE in the valley, they never walk out of it like the rest of us. We can learn form them what to do when the darkness doesn’t lift. When it doesn’t ever feel good, walking with God anyway.

RW: 1/3 of the psalms are laments. ‘Life sucks, but where else can I go?’ I observed my life and observed the 6 stages of grief.
1) Shock – purely human emotion. Keep waiting for Matthew to walk through the door.
2) Sorrow – it’s a godly emotion, you can
3) Struggle – why?? see it in Job, in Abraham, Jacob – wrestling is a contact sport and that’s fine. But you’re NOT going to get an explanation. It’s like an ant trying to understand the internet. Explanations never comfort. You need the comfort of the Holy Spirit
4) Surrender – I’d rather walk with God and not have all the answers. ‘thy will be done’
5) Sanctification – Rom 8:28 anyone can bring good out of good. Only God can bring good out of bad.
6) Service – 2 Cor 1. The thing that was hardest in your life is the very thing God wants to use as your message. Our greatest ministry does not come out of my strengths but my weakness.

How do you forgive?
When there has been someone else involved. (Someone sold him a gun illegally)

KW – That sits in my soul. But forgiveness is good for me. There are also the Drs and psychologists who let him down badly too and abandoned him in the hospital. How could he do that?
But then I thought of OUR failures. The ‘I wish I had… said… done…’ I was at a banquet i knew that psychiatrist would be there, wanted to cancel, but inside I was so mad, angry. Then I recall Corrie Ten Boom recognising a guard from the death camp. God said ‘You as my child do not have the liberty of not forgiving this man.’
So as she drove, she said ‘God I don’t want to forgive him, but I will – and if I see him I will shake his hand.’

RW – 3 reasons to forgive
1) I have been forgiven by God
2) Resentment makes you better. It only hurts you, not them anyway.
3) I’m going to need forgiveness in the future. If you refuse to forgive you burn your bridge to heaven.

It’s about the battle for hope, he was due to preach about HOPE. Everything on his schedule was about hope. Then he got bronchitis, and the message that was due to preach on the day Matthew died was ‘What to do on the worst day of your life’ – and then it was.
From the day you pray the most dangerous prayer; USE ME, satan puts a target on your back. He’s out to steal your hope.

KW – We had a box full of promises from all his life, and they seemed to have all come to nothing. So I had to say to God ‘please show me how to rebuild hope.’ Now my son was not on this earth. 1 Cor 15;43 These bodies are buried in brokenness but will be raised in glory.’ Now I stand over my sons grave and know his body was buried in weakness but will be raised in strength. Ezek 36:37 ‘All that was destroyed will be rebuilt.’
Eric Little: ‘Circumstances may appear to wreck our lives, but God is not helpless among the ruins.’
Matthew is now running through heaven, restored, and one day his body will rejoin his spirit. God rebuilds ruins. So I am in the process of rebuilding hope.

RW. Anyone who struggles with mental illness needs to know. Your chemistry is not your character. You’re not in sin, Matthew always knew who was in pain in any room. Everything in this world is broken because of sin. There’s no perfect people. So why is it if my heart or liver doesn’t work properly and i have to take a pill for it I have no shame over that, but if I take a pill for my mind’s struggles should I be ashamed? We all have broken brains and broken sexuality. We hold treasure in jars of clay.
What happens if you drop a jar of clay?

We need to remove the stigmas. Of all places the church should be saying to struggling people not just they’re welcome here, but they’re wanted.

Yes God can heal mental illness, but sometimes that has to wait till heaven.

If I could hear Matthew now he’d say ‘You were so wrong, because heaven is so much cooler than you ever described it.’

There are 7000 promises in the Bible, and God has all of eternity, not just my lifetime, to fulfil them!