Rick Warren, senior pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., recently preached a sermon called “Surrender: The Path to Peace,” from a series titled “Getting Through What You’re Going Through.”
“The Path to Peace” is about the healing his family has experienced since the suicide of their son, Matthew, about five months ago. As Pastor Warren noted, they’d prayed for Matthew’s healing for 27 years.
God did not answer their prayers.
Shock, sorrow and struggle. More importantly, a focus on the eternal – not the finite.
When a person’s in shock, he or she needs to cry out to God and let others help, Pastor Warren said. In sorrow, we have to go through the pain in order to mourn it. We cannot simply go around it, like some other losses we may not have grieved. We need to ask Jesus Christ what we’ve really lost and ask Him to heal our broken heart, Pastor Warren said.
“You’ve got to remind God of what He said,” Pastor Warren said. “God loves to be reminded of his promises. Then I express my total trust in God.”
The emotion best described with surrender is peace, he said. Surrender is the pathway to peace. Specifically, how do you let go of the pain in your life? How do you move through it? How do you get past the pain so you don’t get stuck? So many people are stuck at some point of major loss.
You have three choices when bad things happen to you, Pastor Warren said. You can let it destroy you. You can let it define you. Or you can let it develop you.
Pastor Warren’s six steps to peace are:
1.) Accept what cannot be changed. When people receive bad news, their first response is rejection. The shaking of the head. Denial. It can’t happen like this. I can’t change it. What do you need to accept that’s over in your life?
2.) Remember, it’s not the end of the story. When we experience devastating or catastrophic loss of some kind, it’s really normal to feel like this is the end. This is over. Nothing good can ever come from it. Everything is lost. Yes, God promises to bring beauty from ashes.
3.) Take care of yourself. When you’re in deep grief, when you’re in suffering, when you’re in mourning, who cares what you wear? It doesn’t matter. We need to go on living, re-enter into life, participate in life again.
4.) Refocus on God through worship. The temptation in our grief is to turn away from God. It’s to run from him. It’s to go as far in the other direction was we can. But it’s hard to recognize God’s working when we’re lashing out at him.
5.) Do something productive. In your grief, in your shock, in your sorrow, in your sadness, in your struggle, part of surrender is to do something productive. What you’ve got to do at that point is take a first step. Stop mourning and start moving. But it requires faith.
6.) Keep on loving, despite your pain. When you lose someone you love, it’s heartbreaking. But when someone rejects your love, you redirect it. There are plenty of people who need your love.