FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–Al Meredith is well acquainted with tragedy. The pastor of Wedgwood Baptist Church in Fort Worth presided over the funerals of four young people and three adults after a gunman entered his church and opened fire on a youth gathering there on Sept. 15, 1999.
Meredith now believes that the tragedy, though still difficult to comprehend, has given his church a great testimony to the faithfulness of Christ in times of trouble. He said that he is confident in God’s ability to do the same for the members of Metro Church in Garland, Texas.
When Meredith was asked what the staff and members of the church can expect in the wake of their own tragedy — the death of four of the church’s youth in a bus crash — he said that “the eyes of the world will be watching to see how Christians handle adversity, especially one of this magnitude.”
“They will be under a microscope very likely. … They’ll have a chance to testify to God’s grace,” he said.
But Meredith is also familiar with the process of grieving that the families of the victims will experience. “There will be many, many tears. And beyond that — when the shock wears off — there will be anger and subsequently depression,” he said.
Meredith also said that there also will be guilt. “There will be survival guilt, parental guilt, and even pastoral guilt. There will be many ‘what ifs?’ and ‘if onlys’ and questions like ‘what could have been done to avert this tragedy?’ or ‘should we never send our kids on a bus trip again?'”
In time, however, those questions will fade, according to Meredith. For now, Meredith encourages all Christians to be cautious when they speak to those affected by the tragedy.
“I think we need to be slow to say ‘I know what you’re going through,’ because every man’s pain is unique. Every person’s trauma is different. I didn’t know their children. The only thing I can say is that there is no sorrow that heaven can’t heal. That sounds hollow right now but eventually that will change.”
As for those believers who died, Meredith said that they are experiencing the joys of heaven and that should never be far from the minds of those at the church. “We sing a lot of songs about heaven around here [at Wedgwood]. Heaven seems all the sweeter and this world seems to allure us less in the light of eternity.”