On Sunday, the senior pastor of Covenant Presbyterian Church in Nashville, Tennessee, delivered his first sermon since his 9-year-old daughter was killed in a mass school shooting in March.
"First of all, we love you," pastor Chad Scruggs told his congregation in a May 14 message titled "Loss and Gain."
"We loved you before March 27, and we love you more now because of how you have loved us."
On March 27, 28-year-old trans-identified shooter Audrey Hale opened fire inside The Covenant School – a private Christian school affiliated with the church – killing three children and three adults. Scruggs' youngest child and only daughter, Hallie, was among those killed. About 14 minutes after the initial 911 call, police rushed to the scene and shot Hale dead.
When asked how he and his family are doing, Scruggs said, "We just don't know how to answer it yet."
"We're doing not well; kind of searching for a new baseline in life right now," he added.
According to The Christian Post, Scruggs noted that reading C.S. Lewis' book A Grief Observed has been a source of comfort.
"Lewis talked about that loss like an amputation, which has been helpful for me for this reason. How are you doing? Well, we're learning to live with a part of us missing," the pastor said.
"Like losing an arm, perhaps, knowing that the phantom pain of that lost arm will always be there with us, just know that from our perspective now it feels impossible to ever pretend the arm will regenerate or that it will ever feel whole this side of Heaven. So, I'd say we're learning to live with sadness. And I will tell you that that's OK. You can do that. Learning to live with sadness."
Scruggs also thanked the congregation for supporting him and his family and asserted that they have never felt "alone" during their time of mourning.
"You have shown up to suffer with us, which is an acknowledgment that love under the shadow of the cross is often best expressed not with words but in presence and tears."
He also said that people experience death as the "cutting off of relationships" and likened the love his family has received from the church and the women at the cross with Jesus.
"Death destroys families," he said. "Yet here's Jesus in His own death, assuring us that in Him, relationships are never severed. Families are not destroyed, but just the opposite. They're actually expanded and grown in Him."
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Seth Herald/Stringer
Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer and content creator. He is a contributing writer for Christian Headlines and the host of the For Your Soul Podcast, a podcast devoted to sound doctrine and biblical truth. He holds a Masters of Divinity from Alliance Theological Seminary.