Dealing with anger by forgiving a mass murderer who killed his sister

Columbine High School, Columbine, Colorado
Credit: Qqqqqq (talk), Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0 Deed

Many remember the Columbine High School massacre that took place, in Columbine, Colorado on April 20, 1999, resulting in the deaths of 12 students and a teacher at the hands of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. Harris and Klebold committed suicide when police finally stormed the school.

This year marks the 25 anniversary of the horrific mass murder that also saw 24 people injured.

One of the survivors of that shooting was Craig Scott, now 41, who recently shared with the Christian Post how a missionary trip to Africa helped him deal with his anger and hatred by enabling him to forgive the two killers.

Scott was in the library when he heard shots going off at the school and hid under a table.

While under the table, he prayed to God for help dealing with the fear and felt impressed by the Holy Spirit that he needed to get out of the library. He ended up helping several students leave the library as well.

Most of the killings ended up taking place in the library.

After successfully fleeing the school, Scott later found out his sister, Rachel, was the first person shot by Harris and Klebold. The two killers actually taunted his sister for her Christian faith before shooting her.

Scott stated that after the horrific incident, he was consumed with anger and rage. He told CNN in 2012, that there was so much hate in him, that at one point he pulled a knife on his younger brother when the two got into an argument.

But in an interview with the Christian Post, Scott recounted how it was on a mission trip to Africa that he was finally able to forgive the two murderers.

Ironically, his sister was booked to go on the trip, but after her death, the missionary organization asked Scott if he would like to go in her place.

During his two-month trip in Africa, he encountered a person at a refugee camp who had forgiven those who had murdered 17 of the individual’s family members.

“I remember in Africa, I began to really let go,” Scott said. “And how I would do it is, I would literally take my emotion of anger in my hands as if it were a physical thing, and I would just release it up to Heaven. I would give it to God. And it wasn’t a one-time thing. I would have to do it again and again, especially as I saw [the shooters’] faces on the news.”

What angered Scott about the killings was how the media portrayed the two as having been bullied at the school. Scott added that the two had friends, and Harris was “more of a bully than bullied.”

Scott added that forgiving those who caused our hurt is the first step in healing.

It reminds me of the parable that Jesus told of the servant who was forgiven much, found in Matthew 18.

When the king called for an accounting of his finances, the servant ended up being short ten thousand talents. When the king ordered the man and his family sold into slavery, the servant begged for mercy and the king surprisingly granted it.

Though we were not provided any details, it was probable that the servant was managing a tax division for the King.

In the days following, a strange thing happens. The servant went out and tried to collect the money people owed him.

You don’t lose this amount of money without a lot of things going bad. People were lent money and weren’t returning his phone calls. Some were behind on their payments. Others had sure-fire investments guaranteed to double their money in a week.

And then there were those pesky emails stating he had just been awarded a ton of money but had to send in a few hundred denarii before he could collect it.

In other words, you don’t lose that amount of money without a lot of things going wrong.

We read that the servant then went out and found a man who owned him a hundred denarii, which is about three months of salary.

But we need to focus on what happened next. “Seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe’” (verse 28).

The servant who had been forgiven much actually had his hands around the man’s throat. He was so angry that he was ready to kill the man. In the end, he ordered the man thrown into debtor’s prison.

Here is the key, when the anger exceeds the incident, you know that it is not about what was happening at that moment. This servant was angry about the thousands of talents that others had taken from him and was pouring all this pent-up rage on the poor man who only owed 100 denarii.

When Scott pulled a knife on his younger brother, it was not about that argument, but rather the senseless murder of his sister and friends.

If your anger exceeds the incident, it reveals that there is probably an issue of unforgiveness in your life.

When the king heard about what happened, he handed the servant who had been forgiven much over to the ‘jailers’ (verse 34). Jesus added in the next verse that God will do the same thing to those who refuse to forgive.

The curious thing is that the Greek word, basanistēs, refers literally to torturers or tormentors. Thayer’s Greek Dictionary defines it as one “who elicits the truth by the use of the rack.”

This servant was going to be tortured, and I believe that if we are unwilling to forgive, we give Satan the right to torment us.

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