People are crushed at the heartbreaking letter that Gatlinburg resident Michael Reed issued to the two teenage boys alleged with starting the fire that destroyed homes, towns, and lives. Reed lost his wife, Constance, along with his two daughters, Lily and Chloe, when the fire blazed uncontrollably and ultimately claimed their lives.
Michael Reed and his wife Constance Reed: Submitted to News Sentinel
Reed's son survived, although the loss of his wife and daughters continues to be one that pains the hearts of those who hear of his tragedy. However, Reed refuses to hold a grudge or point the angry finger at anybody, taking to his Facebook page to confess his forgiveness for the culprits. He writes,
"As humans, it is sometimes hard to show grace. We hold grudges. We stay angry. We point the finger and feel we have to lay the blame somewhere... But I did not raise my children to live with hate. I did not teach my girls or my son to point the finger at others."
Michael Reed and daughters Chloe Reed and Lily Reed: Submitted to News Sentinel
He continues to tell the boys he will continue to pray for them, promising, "We will pray for you. Every day. We will pray for your parents and your family members. Every day. We will pray for your peace. We will show you grace."
When asked why he was taking such a noble step towards the route of forgiveness, Reed explained that he believes that's what Jesus would do.
You can read the incredibly heartbreaking letter below. Reed also compiled a video to remember the wonderful family he once had, which is viewable below. We are keeping Reed and his family in our prayers.
To the 2 teenagers who started the wildfires...
People stop me on the streets everyday and ask me the same question:
"What can we do for you?"
My answer has been the same every time:
"Love those closest to you a little stronger. Hold them a little tighter. Don't take a single moment for granted."
As I learned of your arrests last week I sat in silence for a very long time. You may be too young to understand this, but even through this tragedy I can feel God with me and my son. I have felt my wife and daughters touch me from Heaven. I have seen them give me signs that they are looking down on us. They are happy. They are at peace. They are together.
As humans, it is sometimes hard to show grace. We hold grudges. We stay angry. We point the finger and feel we have to lay the blame somewhere. It's human nature and completely understandable. But I did not raise my children to live with hate. I did not teach my girls or my son to point the finger at others. John 8:7 says "Let he who has not sinned cast the first stone."
Forgiveness isn't for you. It is for me. It is for my son. It is for Constance, Chloe, and Lily. It is for this community who all lost so much in this tragedy.
I, as well as countless others, have been changed forever because of your actions. It is up to you to seek God's forgiveness. I hope someday you can seek it and be at peace.
I forgive you. My son forgives you. My wife and beautiful girls forgive you. We know you didn't mean for this to happen. We know you would take it all back if you could.
We will pray for you. Every day. We will pray for your parents and your family members. Every day. We will pray for your peace. We will show you grace. Why? Because that's what Jesus would do.
The greatest of these is Love.
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