In this episode of I Struggle. I Rise., Kay Warren, pastor at Saddleback Church, remembers the life of her son, Matthew. From a very young age, Matthew struggled with deep depression, panic attacks and chronic suicidality that began to build and build. Kay recalls that she “lived for years with the fear and dread that he would take his life.” On April 5, 2013, at age 27, Matthew Warren did take his own life.
As the worst day imaginable unfolded in front of her, Kay recalls a specific truth that endured through it all: “There was still a knowledge that God had not left us, that we would still survive and that somehow, someday, we would choose joy.” For their family, much of that day is a blur, yet amidst it, this feeling remained clear.
Even with the knowledge that God was ever-present, Kay still experienced immense grief, laying on the ground for hours, sobbing, she remembers. Still, against all odds, her joy was sustained: “My joy…doesn’t have anything to do with what’s going on here, what’s happening externally,” Kay explains. “It’s all about what is ahead,” she continues. “It’s the fact that the story isn’t over. Matthew’s story didn’t end on April 5, 2013.”
Kay takes comfort in the fact that Matthew is safe in God’s arms now and that she will see him again some day. Joy and hope in Kay’s life are not restricted to the here and now; it’s something so much bigger than that. Joy and hope are rooted in the knowledge that God’s goodness and purpose transcends our immediate circumstances.
Though the journey has been long and painful for the Warren family, and they will never stop missing Matthew while they are alive on earth, Kay knows God is at work: “I have seen God at work in what I would consider the ruins of my life…. God does what God does best: He rebuilds and He restores what’s been broken.” God is not helpless in our ruins.
Countless people have been affected by Matthew’s story and Kay’s willingness to share her devastation in vulnerability. What has been the biggest testament to God’s ability to bring good from evil and hope from pain? Hear the rest of Kay’s story in the video above to find out.