Christian pastor and best-selling author Max Lucado has urged Christians to pray for the return of Jesus Christ, and for the demise of the devil, in the wake of the church shooting at First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas, that left 26 people dead.
"We pray for their recovery and for peace. And we are reminded that our battle is not against flesh and blood but against the principalities and powers of this present darkness," Lucado, senior pastor of Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, said on his website Tuesday.
"We are praying for the quick and speedy demise of the devil. And we are urgent in our prayers for the return of Christ in which He will establish a kingdom of peace, once and for all, with the banishment of evil, and filled with the goodness of God."
Gunman Devin Patrick Kelley was identified as the suspect in the deadliest mass shooting at a church in United States history, with officials stating that the attack does not appear to be racially or religiously motivated.
Lucado wrote in an op-ed for Fox News Monday that Jesus warned his followers to expect extreme hardships. He recalled several instances in the Bible, including one in the book of Matthew, where Jesus directly confronts and orders demons out of possessed men.
"We Christians trace the source of violence back to the devil. We place the fault of bloodshed at the feet of the one whose days are numbered; Satan. We find our hope in the sure victory of Jesus," the preacher wrote.
He added that courage stems not from police security, but from "enhanced spiritual maturity."
"These days of violence call for people of faith. People of fear make poor decisions. They overreact, lash out and/or retreat. People of courage, on the other hand, keep a cool head. They are not blind to nor bewildered by the evil in the world," he said.
Lucado urged people to avoid extremes when it comes to crying "gloom and doom," while at the same time said they should not gloss over the "brutality of human existence" either.
He argued that somewhere between "blind denial and blatant panic" stands "the level-headed, clear-thinking, still-believing person of faith. Wide-eyed, yet unafraid. Unterrified by the terrifying. The calmest kid on the block, not for lack of bullies, but for faith in our Heavenly Father."
The author added: "Do not give in to your fears. Resist the temptation to retreat and hunker down. This is the time for faith; the season for God-based hope."
First Baptist Church Pastor Frank Pomeroy, whose 14-year-old daughter was among the victims on Sunday, also urged people to trust in Jesus Christ.
"We've had a long night with our children and grandbabies we have left," he said following the tragedy.
"I don't understand, but I know my God does," Pomeroy declared.
Others, such as evangelist Anne Graham Lotz, daughter of Billy Graham, said there are hard questions to deal with in the wake of the shooting.
"Why? Why, dear God, would You allow something so horrific to take place? In a church? So evil. So senseless. So terrifying. Help me understand," Lotz wrote.
But she then emphasized that Jesus has promised to overcome all things, even death.
"The simple answer to my why question is this: Trust Jesus when I don't understand. His ways are not my ways. He is accomplishing a greater purpose," she continued.
"I just have to trust His heart of love to do what's best. Trust Him."