I’m on the Saddleback Church email list and therefore received the following prayer request from Pastor Warren:
“Over the past 33 years we’ve been together through every kind of crisis. Kay and I’ve been privileged to hold your hands as you faced a crisis or loss, stand with you at gravesides, and prayed for you when ill. Today, we need your prayer for us. No words can express the anguished grief we feel right now. Our youngest son, Matthew, age 27, and a lifelong member of Saddleback, died today.”
His email went on to say that his son had died at his own hands, and gave further explanation.
Rick’s request was for prayer and therefore that is primarily what I request you to do. Pray for the grace of God to bring supernatural peace to their home and wisdom for the days ahead.
Pastor Rick had many advocates. He also had his share of detractors. To both I say that its time to be “touched by the feelings” of Rick and Kay’s sorrows.
Of course, there immediately arises the “Why” questions. Does it matter at this moment? Does it really? The answer to the why questions rarely produce the hoped for peace, anyway. So, there are also appropriate times to not look for answers.
I vividly remember a pastor from my past that came to the visitation of the death of a child of the congregation. The circumstances were tragic. Since he was new to the church, he didn’t know the family, nor the child laying in front of him.
Many people had been sincerely trying to offer words of comfort and hope. He just stood there with the relatives and wept. He finally walked away and out the doors with deep feelings of defeat. He hadn’t “done his job”…especially as the new pastor, he groaned within.
A few weeks later, he was approached by one of the family members. To his surprise the words he heard were, “Your presence was the most comfort of all. You cried with us.”
There have been times that I’ve taken my lead from that example. I’ve received the same response.
In the midst of grief, words seldom provide what’s intended. At those times let your words be to God (Who understands how and where to touch the inner grief and questions). Let your tears be shared with the people.