Pastor Rick Warren: Insight Since His Wife’s Cancer Diagnosis

Pastor Rick Warren - Saddleback Church

I was sent this article from a friend of mine. I have not confirmed the source of this, but the insight in here was very powerful and relevent to where I am. This helped me, and may help someone else one day.

REVISION (3.26.09): Special thanks to a visitor to my blog I now know who wrote the article, John Dailey, executive editor of Decision Magazine. You can find it, in its entirety HERE.

Pastor Rick Warren: Insight Since His Wife’s Cancer Diagnosis
(Author of the Purpose Driven Life)

“Purpose Driven Life “author and pastor of Saddleback Church in California. In the interview by Paul Bradshaw with Rick Warren, Rick said:

People ask me, What is the purpose of life? And I respond: In a nutshell, life is preparation for eternity. We were not made to last forever, and God wants us to be with Him in Heaven. One day my heart is going to stop, and that will be the end of my body but not the end of me.

I may live 60 to 100 years on earth, but I am going to spend trillions of years in eternity. This is the warm-up act – the dress rehearsal. God wants us to practice on earth what we will do forever in eternity.

We were made by God and for God, and until you figure that out, life isn’t going to make sense. Life is a series of problems: Either you are in one now, you’re just coming out of one, or you’re getting ready to go into another one.

The reason for this is that God is more interested in your character than your comfort.

God is more interested in making your life holy than He is in making your life happy.

We can be reasonably happy here on earth, but that’s not the goal of life. The goal is to grow in character, in Christ likeness.

This past year has been the greatest year of my life but also the toughest, with my wife, Kay, getting cancer.

I used to think that life was hills and valleys – you go through a dark time, then you go to the mountaintop, back and forth. I don’t believe that anymore.

Rather than life being hills and valleys, I believe that it’s kind of like two rails on a railroad track, and at all times you have something good and something bad in your life.

No matter how good things are in your life, there is always something bad that needs to be worked on. And no matter how bad things are in your life, there is always something good you can thank God for.

You can focus on your purposes or you can focus on your problems.

If you focus on your problems, you’re going into self centeredness, “which is my problem, my issues, my pain.” But one of the easiest ways to get rid of pain is to get your focus off yourself and onto God and others.

We discovered quickly that in spite of the prayers of hundreds of thousands of people, God was not going to heal Kay or make it easy for her.

It has been very difficult for her, and yet God has strengthened her character, given her a ministry of helping other people, given her a testimony, drawn her closer to Him and to people.

You have to learn to deal with both the good and the bad of life.

Actually, some times learning to deal with the good is harder. For instance, this past year, all of a sudden, when the book sold 15 million copies, it made me instantly very wealthy.

It also brought a lot of notoriety that I had never had to deal with before. I don’t think God gives you money or notoriety for your own ego or for you to live a life of ease.

So I began to ask God what He wanted me to do with this money, notoriety and influence. He gave me two different passages that helped me decide what to do, II Corinthians 9 and Psalm 72

First, in spite of all the money coming in, we would not change our lifestyle one bit. We made no major purchases. Second, about midway through last year, I stopped taking a salary from the church.
Third, we set up foundations to fund an initiative we call The Peace Plan to plant churches, equip leaders, assist the poor,  care for the sick, and educate the next generation. Fourth, I added up all that the church had paid me in the 24 years since I started the church, and I gave it all back. It was liberating to be able to serve God for free.

We need to ask ourselves: Am I going to live for possessions? Popularity? Am I going to be driven by pressures? Guilt? Bitterness? Materialism? Or am I going to be driven by God’s purposes (for my life)?

When I get up in the morning, I sit on the side of my bed and say, God, if I don’t get anything else done today, I want to know You more and love You better. God didn’t put me on earth just to fulfill a to-do list. He’s more interested in what I am than what I do.

That’s why we’re called human beings, not human doings.

Happy moments, PRAISE GOD.
Difficult moments, SEEK GOD.
Quiet moments, WORSHIP GOD.
Painful moments, TRUST GOD.
Every moment, THANK GOD.

11 thoughts on “Pastor Rick Warren: Insight Since His Wife’s Cancer Diagnosis

  1. I have a dear friend who has been given 2 weeks to live. She has stomach cancer and is about 48 yrs and leaves behine 5 children, the youngest 11 years old. We have been praying for her and I’m on the Relay for Life (American Cancer Society event) and have the members praying for her also. She is so inspiring and told me she was ready when God calls her, my heart breaks for her family. Their faith is what is holding them together. When a friend sent me this message above, it just hit the spot! Sorry your wife has cancer, we are doing all we can here in Chowchilla CA to raise money and Relay for cancer research. We have very little money, but we want to make a difference. I know we can not live forever, and we do want to be with God, but we had 3 children die year before last and a good friends 11 yr daughter die all from cancer, I just would like to see them with their family a little longer. God bless Ruth

    Hello all!
    I discovered that the article was written by Jim Dailey of the Billy Graham organization. From what I can see, the article that is obtaining such wide distribution is some kind of adaptation of the Decision Magazine November 2004 interview. Also read online that Kay’s cancer is in remission (2009), Praise the Lord. We should never say that God does not see fit to heal someone. In His time, and His own way, He will work. So here we are now in 2009, and his wife is in remission, and cancer free. The glory goes to God.

    1. Thanks for the info – I hesitated even posting it without knowing who wrote it, but it was so inspiring, and with my dad passing away with cancer, it had a profound impact on my life. I appreciate the research.

  3. Sorry to hear that your Dad passed away from Cancer. Cancer touches almost everyone, either a relative or a friend. My grandpa died of cancer, and my mother survived it, praise the Lord.
    Through it all, our attitude is important – like Job – Blessed be the name of the Lord – he gives and takes away. It always changes our closeness with the Lord when we suffer loss – we need to draw near to Him even though it’s the last thing we want to do. Without the Lord in our lives at the time of my mother’s illness, we would have been in despair, but we clung to the bible words – Choose Life. Yet will I praise the Lord. I will live to serve the Lord.
    Somehow, the Lord comforts us through the tough times and I am thankful for that.

  4. Your writeup has been very comforting and healing to me. I lost my 18 year old son in a road accident all of a sudden and life has never been same for me again. Of course, now I understand that my earlier knowledge about spirituality and God were mere bookish. Now I am living and experiencing it. In last two years I have learnt what I could not learn in 44 years of my life. Earlier I used to see presence of God around me. Now I can actually feel it and experience it. Life is eternal. Body gets discarded and soul lives on. When someone close to us suffers, it opens up so many levels of understanding and our wisdom reaches new height. I don’t know whether we are paying Karmic debts this way but one thing is sure this suffering has a bigger spiritual reason behind it. When there is pain, there is gain only we cannot see or fathom it right now. Our soul is growing at an alarming speed during such times of crisis.

    I pray to God to take special care of you and your loving family and send a thousand Angels around you to heal you during your tough time.

    God bless you
    Vandana Ritik
    New Delhi

  5. I feel like we are so close to life changing diagnosis and we seem to be walking a spiritual, emotional and physical tight rope and reaching out for the healing Hand of the Lord God. I have been so close to hurting family as we watched the transition of those we love so much so I appreciate this word

  6. Great article indeed. Roger, I think the previous poster confused you. It is not written by John Dailey, it is INDEED written by Rick Warren. John Dailey wrote the questions in the interview, but Rick Warren gave the answers that make up this great essay.

    1. Respectfully to the last poster, Rodger mentioned he had an “unsourced article” that he was referring to – he was not asking for the author of the words (it was pretty obvious)… If there is any book or audio tape with these words in print it would advisable to provide those links here as well. I don’t know if Rick answered the questions in written format or verbally. If he answered them verbally, then the quotes are attributed to Rick but the authorship of the article is the person who compiled it and put it into print (in MHO).

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