An Open Letter to Rick Warren

Rick Warren

Photo Credit: Creative Commons, jurvetson

Dear Mr. Warren,

I cried when I heard the news. Your son was my age. Just twenty-seven. He had such a full life ahead of him—tragically severed by his own hand.

I can’t imagine what you and your family are feeling. Is it hard to breath? Is it hard not to think that life is over . . . that this is the end?

I cried again over his death this morning. Sometimes God is so tragically silent, isn’t He? So seemingly breathless.

Why didn’t God stop your son from taking his life? Why didn’t God step in? Why didn’t our good Dad infuse your son’s soul with hope so he could keep fighting?

I think of the story of John the Baptist getting word in prison that Jesus was healing the sick, making the blind see, the lame walk. He must have thought, “What about me?” Had God forgotten all those years he ate locusts and honey and proclaimed that Jesus was coming? Did God leave him to fend for himself? Jesus would show up in his prison cell eventually . . . right?

Jesus didn’t show up, at least in the way he undoubtedly prayed. John’s life ended with beheading. Jesus never stepped in, God never rescued him, and he never got out of prison. How unspeakably heartbreaking. How impossible to understand.

How grievous that God didn’t answer your pleadings to rescue your son. I know he’s finally at peace, but I think it’s ok to ask why God went dark when you needed him most.

Why does God ignore the prayers of the faithful? He’s used you to change so many lives—why could he not have helped your son? I’m asking these questions, as I pray for your family.

Without answers,

Ruthie

Hi Readers—I wrote this letter because I think it’s very important to ask God hard questions. Blindly hanging on to “God has a plan” or “all things work together for good” and distancing our hearts from God is never how our faith was intended to be lived out. If you are struggling with feeling like God has abandoned you, I beg you to talk to him about it. Tell him how confused, hurt, angry, and betrayed you feel. Tell him it’s hard to remember to breath. My relationship with our good Dad is only strong today because I wasn’t afraid to scream and holler and ask hard questions. He can handle our doubts and anger and questions. I promise.

Will you pray for the Warren family? If you’d write your prayers below, I’d be grateful. 

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Comments
17 Responses to “An Open Letter to Rick Warren”
  1. Eva says:

    Dear Lord, comfort the warren family Amen!

  2. So good, Ruthie. I cried too. Also that there are so many more like him cut me deep. It made me look at mental illness differently. With more compassion than I have in the past, if I’m honest.

    All I can think is that we live in a broken world. It’s one big hot mess but God is still good.

  3. Sue says:

    Prayer:

    Dad, I pray that you pour your love out on this family and give them peace .

    Comment:

    Ruthie,

    I don’t really have an answer f

    • Sue says:

      for you. What this Messiah grad does know is that God knows more about the situation than we do. I also know that He will turn this around for good, in some way. Ruthie, I lost a cousin, without warning, in December. I have asked “Why?” several times over the last few months. During that time, I almost lost my husband as well. Ruthie, I would love to have my cuz back. However, God is showings that it is a new season and I have a new mission. Honey, give it some time.

      Sue

  4. Don Kester... says:

    God grant the family the fortitude to bear this huge loss. Amen.

  5. I am so sad for them as well. While I was depressed and struggling with suicidal thoughts a few years ago, I very much felt what Rick Warren said his son felt: “Dad, I know I’m going to heaven. Why can’t I just die and end this pain?”

    I appreciate that Warren has supported a balanced perspective of mental illness and depression treatment in his comments so far, which is sadly rare to see in the American church — an understanding that it’s a medical, emotional, and spiritual struggle all together. I hope that God brings much good out of this tragedy and helps other Christians find the mental and emotional support they need.

  6. Katie Orr says:

    Lord, we declare that you are in control when our world seems to be out of control. We don’t know all the whys, but we do know that you are good. Give the Warrens the grace to cling to that.

  7. Carol says:

    Dear Ruthie – I have loved your blogs since I stumbled upon them a year or so ago. I love getting the perspective of a young woman, crazy about God and her husband, going through the details of life.

    Your blog post today, however, I believe was a tad impetuous. When tragedy and events happen for which we have no human answer, we must rest in His arms of love. God is not “tragically silent” but He is a communicator and He speaks words of love and strength over His beloved children.

    God does not ignore the prayers of the faithful – He is behind the scenes of our life working in great and eternal love. Perhaps the prayers of the faithful are not answered in the way we would desire, but He does not ignore them. Ever.

    I am 58 years old – and have served and loved God since I was just a little girl. I have seen life experiences for which I have no human answer. But through it all I have experienced God’s goodness, His strength … and yes … even His joy. I have 5 children on earth and 5 children in heaven, having lost 5 babies at between 12 and 20 weeks in utero. During those dark, dark days of my life I found a God Who loved me, strengthened me, was not tragically silent but lovingly talkative and who would never ignore my heartfelt prayers.

    During these days of tragedy in the life of a brother and sister in the Lord, it is time to simply say, “I love you, Rick and Kay Warren. Your ministry has changed my life. I am so sorry for what you are going through. My prayer is that you will know God in a way that is all-consuming and all-loving. I am one of the millions who is holding up your arms today.”

    Blessings, Ruthie. Wish we could have a cup of tea together and share our hearts … hearts that love God and are committed to making a difference at this time in history.

    • Ruthie Dean says:

      Hi Carol,

      Thanks for your comment. This post was not impetuous in the least . . . I thought about it for 24 hours before writing. I knew some wouldn’t like it because it didn’t have a nice bow at the end, but I purposely didn’t add any “God has a plan” or “God loves you” or “God is always in control” statements because I thought it would take away from their anguish. I wanted readers to understand that it’s ok to question God when He is seemingly silent.

      I appreciate you speaking up and expressing your opinions. Very important that readers hold me accountable.

      Does anyone agree/disagree? Let’s discuss because this is important.

      Thanks!

      • Becky says:

        I agree with Carol in that God does not ignore our prayers, but rather chooses to answer them in His own, perfect way, even if it does not seem perfect to us, and is not what we want.

        I would also say that while “God has a plan/loves you/is in control” types of phrases can sound cliché, they are nonetheless truth that can speak into our anguish and sorrow, rather than taking away from it. However, perhaps at times like these, we need to find a better way to state these truths to avoid sounding platitudinous.

  8. Carol says:

    Ruthie – I loved your response to my input which is part of the reason why I love your blog posts so much. You are the real deal! Genuine and sincere …

    Let me gently say to you … that 24 hours is pretty quick. Sometimes, before I publish my response to a situation or event it takes days … weeks … months … for me to get “me” out of the way and to place God front and center in an issue. The more volatile or tough a situation … the more I must lay aside my desire to speak from my raw heart and take up the higher call of wisdom.

    I think that one of the issues is which we gently differ is that I don’t believe hunkering down into “God has a plan” and “He works all things together for good” is a blind decision. Those statements are not platitudes but they are promises. Promises that are meant to give us strength at the darkest moment of life. They are, after all, true.

    And that, my new friend, is what I believe faith to be: believing that God is Who He says that He is even in the dark. Especially in the dark.

    He is good. He is loving. He is kind. He is omniscient and omnipotent. He also gave us free choice. We choose Him … or not. We choose to love Him … or not. We choose to obey Him … or not. Free choice messes everything up for me!! If I were God, I wouldn’t have trusted ME with free choice! But He gave it to me knowing that some days I would mess it all up and some days … when I allowed Him to be at the helm of my life … that I would get it all right.

    Back to the Warren’s … you want to know what I believe, Ruthie? I believe that their son is with Jesus today. I believe that he is in the presence of the One Who makes all things new. And although his parents are heartbroken, lonely, aghast and in deep and heavy grief, my prayer is that they are comforted because their sweet boy is whole. My prayer is that their faith holds. My prayer is that God would use Rick and Kay Warren in yet greater ways in this their darkest moment. I know that it is your prayer, too because you are the real deal!

    • k says:

      thanks Carol for your statements, I love Ruthie too- and i think she has a lot of wisdom beyond her years {you do , Ruthie}.
      Ruthie- I do thank you for addressing the tragedy, and making a statement when it would seem to be so much easier to stay silent due to the misunderstandings we all have about tough situations.

    • Ruthie Dean says:

      First I must say, thank you for being gracious in your disagreement. I hate how easily it is to slam people with our words online–so thank you for kindly offering your differing opinion. I really appreciate it. I will take your thoughts into consideration, but this blog is supposed to be my journey, not necessarily an “I have an answer” or “I have everything figured out.”

      Thanks for commenting!

  9. edwardkon says:

    Hi Ruthie

    I am touched by your letter to Pastor Rick Warren. My deepest condolence and prayer to the Warren family. I lost my brother-in-law recently due to cardiac arrest. He was a simple but honest man. One moment he was having a reunion dinner with us, the next he was gone! Death came so sudden and before you know it, it comes knocking at our doors. And how I wish Jesus was there just like the way He resuscitated Lazarus. But Jesus never showed up.

    I guess it’s not easy not asking this intriguing question, ‘Why?” For there seems to be no logical answer at all. We can take comfort in the Book of Job. I am consoled to know that the Lord Jesus strengthens us as time goes by for He is our tower of refuge.

  10. Great letter. Thanks for that. I think the whole Christian world is praying för Rick Warren and his family. May God hear us all <3

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