“Love is always stronger than hate,” said Chris Singleton, son of the slain Sharonda Singleton, (http://www.cnn.com/2015/06/18/us/charleston-church-shooting-victims/index.html). On Wednesday, June 17th, 21-year-old Dylann Roof attended Bible study at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church for an hour before he opened fire and killed nine of the attendees, ranging in age from 26 to 87-years-old.
At Roof’s hearing on Friday, June 19th, a survivor and the family members of the deceased were present. They expressed that although what Roof did was horrific, they forgave him. Most people couldn’t believe or understand how they could forgive a person who terrorized and killed their loved ones. However, the family members believed that God’s love can override the evil of hate that was exemplified by Roof.
Pastor Jimmy C. Baldwin, Sr., Shiloh Christian Community Church, Baltimore, Maryland, gave a sermon in which he spoke from Acts 28:3, “And when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks, and laid them on the fire, there came a viper out of the heat, and fastened on his hand.” Pastor Baldwin’s explanation for this Scripture was that Paul shook the snake off before it could bite, and the venom could poison him. Immediately, the words “I forgive you” spoken by one of the family members echoed in my head as I listened to the sermon. Like Paul, to keep the bite of hate from poisoning their systems, they had to shake it off by asking God to give them the strength to forgive Roof. Otherwise, hate would poison their systems by festering deep down into their hearts and could spring forth later in the form of hatred, bitterness, or even sickness.
To some, granting Roof forgiveness made the family members appear weak. In essence, it takes strength to utter those words after a tragedy. As believers, they are following Jesus’ example when He was crucified on the cross, and said, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). He shared how we must forgive those who trespass against us, too.
Love will always supersede hate because that is the way God created the world. We may not understand why God allows such tragedies to happen, especially to innocent people, but as the hymn writer wrote, “We Will Understand it Better By and By.” ■
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