Saddleback Church founder Pastor Rick Warren delivered the first in a series of sermons Saturday titled "How To Get Through What You're Going Through."
Warren returned to the pulpit after spending the last 19 weeks with his family following his son Matthew's suicide in April.
The pastor said his son suffered from depression and mental illness. Matthew was the youngest of Warren and his wife Kay's three children.
Warren says he prayed every day for God to heal his son. He said it didn't make sense why his prayers had not been answered."And when Matthew died I remember writing in my journal 'this does not make sense' but I would rather walk with God and have my questions unanswered than have all my questions answered and not walk with God," said Warren during Saturday's service.
The head of the popular Orange County church will begin a new series of messages about how the bible can bring comfort and encouragement.
Warren says he intends to turn his grief into a message of service and hope.
"You know, I am in a family of spiritual redwoods. They are giants of the faith. They really are. Satan picked the wrong team to pick on," he said.
On his Facebook page, Warren wrote that this was the longest he had ever gone without preaching.
Warren founded Saddleback Church in 1980, according to his biography on the church website, and over the years watched it grow to 20,000 members. He and his wife began by holding Bible studies for people who weren't regular churchgoers. He is also author of the bestselling book "The Purpose Driven Life."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.