Rick Warren has spent the last year grappling with the loss of his son, Matthew, who died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound five days after Easter. This year, the holiday has taken on new meaning for the popular evangelical author and pastor of Southern California's Saddleback Church.
In a video posted to YouTube by Saddleback Church, Warren offered a personal invitation to the congregation's Easter services -- which he says this year will focus on recovering from loss.
"The day Matthew gave in to despair was the worst day of my life," Warren says. "During the past year, I've often been asked, 'How have you made it? How have you kept going in your pain?' and I've often replied, 'The answer is Easter.'"
The Easter story, Warren continues, is one that can inspire hope for those dealing with even the worst grief and devastation.
"The death, and the burial, and the resurrection of Jesus happened over three days. Friday was the day of suffering and pain and agony. Saturday was the day of doubt and confusion and misery. But Easter, that Sunday, was the day of hope and joy and victory.
You will face these three days over and over and over in your lifetime. And when you do, you'll find yourself asking, as I did, three fundamental questions: Number one, what do I do in my days of pain? Two, how do I get through my days of doubt and confusion? Three, how do I get to the days of joy and victory?
The answer is Easter."
Saddleback Church will offer 50 services across its 12 Southern California campuses from Thursday evening through Easter Sunday.
"This will be the most personal, the most powerful and the most encouraging message I've ever shared."