Rick Warren: Don't waste your pain

Rick Warren pictured delivering the first sermon in his "How to get through what you're getting through" series - the first time he had preached since the suicide of his son in April(Photo: Saddleback Church)

In the final sermon of the series inspired by his son's suicide, Rick Warren encouraged people to learn from their struggles and use them as a springboard to love and serve others more.

It has been a difficult five months for Warren since his son, Matthew, took his own life at the age of 27 after a long battle with mental health.

The Purpose Driven Life author took to the pulpit on Sunday to deliver the last instalment of his seven-week sermon series, "How to get through what you're going through."

Each message in the series focused on the six stages of grief - shock, sorrow, struggle, surrender, sanctification and service.

In Sunday's sermon, titled "Never Waste Your Pain", Warren explained that God could use pain to fulfil His purposes in our lives.

"Our deepest life message often comes out of our deepest pain," he said.

"I can endure pain if I see a purpose in it. But sadly, most people squander their suffering, don't profit from their problems, never learn from their losses and are unable to advance from their adversity or gain from their pain."

He pointed out suffering could make believers become more like Christ as He learned obedience through suffering.

In a similar way, he challenged people to use their pain to draw closer to God and to others.

"God didn't spare Jesus, His only Son from pain; what makes you think He will spare you?" he added.

"The secret of every winner, whether in business, sport, love, finance or relationships, is resilience – the ability to bounce back from setbacks or failure," Warren continued.

"Winners have the same problems losers do, but they get back up while losers stay down. The secret to a person's resilience is perspective."

Most importantly, our personal pain can be channeled to bless others, he contended.

"Don't waste your pain, let God heal it, recycle it, utilise it and use it to bless other people," he said. "Use your pain as a model for your message and a witness to the world. But to touch other people, you need to be honest – with God, yourself and others – and you need to be vulnerable."

Citing 2 Corinthians 1:4 - 6, Warren said he intended to continue sharing with others the same comfort he himself had been given.

"The fellowship of suffering is the deepest of all," he said. "Odds aren't good for a couple who loses a child, as nearly one-third of these marriages end in divorce. But Kay and I give each other a lot of grace, are closer today since Matthew's death, and I am more in love with my wife than ever before."