Texas pastor urges Christians to forgive even after mass shootings

Christians ought to practice forgiveness even after the horror of mass shootings because refusing to forgive will only lead to self-destruction, according to a pastor from Fort Worth, Texas, whose own church experienced a similar attack in 1999.

(REUTERS / Rick Wilking)Crosses are placed near a vigil in the memory of those killed in the shooting at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas. November 7, 2017.

Speaking on KERA 90.1 FM's show "Think" on Nov. 6, Pastor Al Meredith of Wedgwood Baptist Church recalled how Larry Gene Ashbrook stormed into their house of worship in the middle of a youth service and opened fire. The assailant also detonated a pipe bomb before killing himself, and the attack resulted in eight deaths and 15 injuries, Dallas News relayed.

Pastor Meredith told radio host Krys Boyd that a person will be able to "get through" a mass shooting through God's grace. He was not there when his church was attacked, and he admitted that he had questioned his faith at the time and asked where God was.

The following day, Pastor Meredith remembered that God knows how he feels because He had watched his own son subjected to beatings and then killed. While his congregation debated on whether to resume their service the next Sunday, they ended up with 2,200 attendees when they did so.

"To refuse to forgive is to insist on drinking the poison you meant for your worst enemy," said Pastor Meredith. "You always destroy yourself."

In addition, Meredith said it was fine to be angry sometimes and to doubt since God will understand those emotions, but it will be better if one should "choose to forgive."  He also reminded people struggling from survivor's guilt not to listen to the devil's lies because the incident was not their fault. Moreover, he urged people to have faith in God, no matter what happens, and know that He will never abandon them.

In a devotional entry in May 2014, Pastor Rick Warren enumerated three reasons why a person must forgive. First, God forgave humankind and sent Jesus Christ to pay for all their sins.

Second, one must forgive and let go of all bitterness because resentment is "a self-inflicted wound" which will hurt a person more than the offender.

Lastly, Pastor Warren said one needs to forgive others so that he will also receive forgiveness from God and from other people.