God doesn’t promise us a life without pain, but He does promise to give joy in the midst of it. On this edition of Live the Promise, Susie talks again with Kay Warren. She shares her own faith journey and what she’s learned about choosing joy and trusting God in difficult circumstances, including the loss of her son, Matthew.
Kay and her husband Rick have walked a road of deep grief after their son took his life. Kay wrote her book, Choose Joy: Because Happiness Isn’t Enough, before his death. In her words, “I believe God used the book as preparation to get me through what was ahead.” Kay walked through a cancer diagnosis and chronic depression in her life, and she soon realized that her joy needed to be found in Christ alone. She defines it as a “settled assurance” about God and His promises. She points to men like King David, Paul, James, and of course Jesus, and calls us to follow their example. When we have that settled assurance, we can walk through trials, imprisonment, the loss of a loved one, financial hardship and more.
When Kay and Rick lost their son, this journey to learning and choosing joy took on a sharp new meaning. Kay shared that, though she clung to God in the darkness, she wrestled with Him. She wrestled with deep disappointment, anger, grief, and confusion. Speaking from a place of suffering, she offers the church this counsel:
“I think people are well-meaning. We’ve received thousands and thousands of emails and cards and texts and gifts… sweet, sweet comfort from the body of Christ. I will always be grateful for the way that this cocoon of compassion surrounded us in the aftermath of our son’s death… But what I started to notice as the year-mark started getting closer… that little cocoon started to disintegrate. Don’t ever start a sentence to someone in grief with the words ‘at least.’ Any time we use it, we’re minimizing the pain of someone else. Grief is slow, and it’s long, and we try to hurry people along… The people who have meant the most to me in this last year are the people who have been willing to be changed by our grief. They don’t rush in with words… It is the hope of heaven that keeps me sane. But that doesn’t make me not weep.”
For Kay and Rick, the choice for joy is a daily battle. She points to Christ as our ultimate hope and only source of joy – only He outlasts our pain, our earthly treasures, and our own lives.