Rick Warren to San Bernardino survivors: 'Tears are a gift from God'

by Tobin Perry, |
Rick Warren speaks at the public memorial service for the victims of last month's San Bernardino shooting. | Associated Press Video/Screenshot

ONTARIO, Calif. (Christian Examiner) — As employees of Inland Regional Center (IRC) returned to work this week after a Dec. 2 terrorist attack had killed 14 of their colleagues, Pastor Rick Warren encouraged them to grieve.

You will never get over it, but you will get through it.

"Tears are a gift from God. Tears are not a sign of weakness, but of love," said Warren, who is the pastor of nearby Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., and an alum of California Baptist University in Riverside.

The two main offices of IRC re-opened on Monday. As employees returned to work, San Bernardino County gave all employees the afternoon off to attend a gathering dedicated to the memory of their fallen co-workers. Warren and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani were keynote speakers for the gathering. More than 5,000 employees attended the memorial service held in Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, Calif.

Warren faced tragedy of his own in April of 2013 when his youngest son committed suicide. The megachurch pastor and best-selling author drew from his own experience to help San Bernardino's grieving residents.

"I came here to tell you that you will thrive again," Warren said.

Warren also tried to help listeners learn from his experience as they help their co-workers through the grieving process.

"For those of you who are fellow employees and you don't know what to say to those who have gone through this, let me just say this, you don't have to say anything," Warren said. "You just have to show up."

Warren urged employees not to rush the grieving process.

"Recovery takes time. There is no expiration date on grief," Warren said, according to CBS Los Angeles. "You will never get over it, but you will get through it."

Warren also urged attendees not to be bitter, noting that "Bitterness will not change what happened."

Giuliani also drew from his own experience for his speech. Giuliani served as mayor of New York City during the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. He told the audience that he had lost 10 close friends during 9/11.

"Here's what you got to do—you got to make good out of bad," Giuliani said.

He urged Americans to come visit San Bernardino and spend money. As the county thrives, he said, they will be telling the terrorists that they can't win.

"Their goal 'was to break us' and you defeat that by showing how San Bernardino fights back," Giuliani told the crowd, according to the San Bernardino Sun. "I want you to come out of this stronger."

Both Warren and Giuliani also thanked first-responders for their work following the tragedy.