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Kay Warren recounts lessons in suffering
Tammi Reed Ledbetter, Baptist Press
June 23, 2011
5 MIN READ TIME

Kay Warren recounts lessons in suffering

Kay Warren recounts lessons in suffering
Tammi Reed Ledbetter, Baptist Press
June 23, 2011

PHOENIX – When

suffering came into her life, Kay Warren’s natural response was to view it as

an enemy she needed to fight and push away. “I want it gone and I want it gone

now,” she told the Pastors’ Wives Conference of the Southern Baptist Convention’s

Pastors’ Conference June 13.

Warren began searching the

Scriptures 18 months ago for every mention of darkness when she felt

overwhelmed by two bouts with cancer, five surgeries, the deaths of close

family members and serious health challenges of three other relatives. The wife

of Rick Warren, the pastor of Saddleback

Church in Southern

California, Warren

said she was comforted by God’s promise in Isaiah 45:3 of treasures that were “hidden

in secret places, so that you may know I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who

summons you by name.”

Kay Warren of Saddleback Church gives the keynote address at the 2011 Pastors’ Wives Conference June 13 at the Phoenix Convention Center in Phoenix, Ariz. The conference was held simultaneously with the 2011 Pastor’s Conference prior to the Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting June 14-15.

Instead of trying to run from God or battle the darkness, Warren

said she learned to surrender to God and look for the treasures worth embracing

in times of suffering.

“This is earth, not heaven. Brokenness is the norm on planet earth, not

wholeness. And brokenness and darkness come into all our lives,” Warren

told the ministers’ wives. For those who have yet to experience suffering, she

urged them to prepare for the darkness by planting deep roots.

“God knows our purpose and He will make sure in our dark times that we have

what we need so that we can fulfill our purpose in exactly the same way that He

did that for Cyrus,” Warren said, referring to the account in Isaiah of God

using a Gentile king to deliver Israel.

After receiving her first diagnosis of cancer, Warren

appealed to God to produce gold from the fiery trial of suffering, referring to

the promise of Job 23:10. She said that prayer was answered in many ways,

including a greater empathy for other people who suffer and a desire to live

with a greater sense of urgency so that no day is wasted.

“We all want the benefit of a life of faith without ever having to demonstrate

faith,” Warren said. “I had to have

faith in those moments of suffering with cancer to believe that God would do

what He said.”

Warren reminded the ministers’

wives they can call on the God of the universe who knows them by name. “In

those places where you feel like you are backed up against the corner and feel

like God might as well nail the coffin shut,” she prayed that the attendees

would “believe this verse was not just written for the prophecy of a king named

Cyrus thousands of years ago, but this verse has your name on it.”

“God longs to show you the treasures hidden in the darkness as you embrace it

and you seek what is only found in the dark times,” Warren

said.

Heather Moore of Christ Fellowship in Tampa, Fla.,

shared her testimony of God’s provision after she and her husband moved to the

inner city where he rebirthed a dying church. “God alone is my provider and as

we reorder our budget He is taking care of our needs and, as we reorder our

lifestyle, I’m learning God can be trusted.”

In the midst of that challenge, more than 160 people have professed faith in

Christ in the past six months, Moore

said. “I have decided I will move down in ministry every day of my life as long

as I get to be a part of seeing God change people’s lives.”

Recalling the story Jesus told of the widow’s sacrifice from Mark 12, Moore

said, “Jesus redefines faith not by how much we give, but by how much we have

left over after we have given.” Instead of being a story about money, she said,

“It’s about so much more. It was her faith and trust in God that allowed her to

give everything she had.”

By taking bigger steps of faith, Moore

said, “It has renewed our own walk and we’re on an adventure with God like I’ve

never been on before.”

Moore and Warren joined Lynette Ezell of Alpharetta,

Ga., and Meredith Floyd of Cross

Church in Fayetteville,

Ark., fielding questions from ministers’

wives during a panel led by Susie Hawkins of Dallas.

Barbara O’Chester of Wake Forest,

closed the session with a time of guided prayer for the wives.

(EDITOR’S NOTE Tammi Reed Ledbetter is news editor of the Southern Baptist TEXAN,

www.texanonline.com, newsjournal of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.)