Joel Osteen, pastor of America's fastest-growing church, is in Miami this weekend for his annual "America's Night of Hope" worship event that will draw tens of thousands Saturday night. The megachurch pastor and bestselling inspirational author spoke with The Huffington Post Friday about the global event and the subject of hope, in light of this week's violent and tragic events.
Osteen appeared during the live chat apparently via a web camera as law enforcement officials were in Boston Friday morning, hunting down one of two suspects said to be responsible for the violent bombing at the Boston Marathon on Monday that killed three people and injured more than 170 others.
When asked by host Lamont Hill on what his message would be to Americans who have suffered not only from the bombing, but also due to other cases of tragedy this week, such as the Texas fertilizer plant fire that killed several people, the Lakewood Church pastor said, "I would tell them that God has us all in the palm of His hand."
"There's many things we don't understand," Osteen added. "Unfortunately, God has given us our own free will and people choose to do evil things." When people put their faith in God, however, "He'll give you a peace and grace for every season."
As for the families in the middle of the lock-down in the Boston-area amid law enforcement's search for the suspect Friday morning, Osteen suggested the first thing they should do is take a moment to pray, and believe that God is in complete control.
"Don't let the spirit of fear come over you. You have to come back to that place of faith," he added.
The Houston, Texas pastor shared that he has been asked many questions by those concerned by the tragedy, and stated that the most common question has been "why?"
"There are many things in life that we don't understand, and I don't try to explain them all. I just know God gives us grace to get through them all," said Osteen, adding that it does not make sense to live life angry or "let one event ruin your life." Instead, he suggested, people should find a way to use their experiences to help others.
"There's not a lot to say to them," Osteen said when asked how he would minister to victims dealing with the deaths of loved ones or who have suffered injuries from the marathon bombing. He said more than anything, he would pray for them.
"I've been in situations like that and you just sit there with them and weep with them. You let them know they're gong to make it through, but I don't know if words are [good enough]," he added.
Osteen's final message was to remember that "every day is a gift from God, There's no guarantee for tomorrow … Don't' live it angry, don't live it bitter."
Osteen, who leads the 43,000-strong Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas, joined The Huffington Post live online program from Marlins Park in Miami, where the worship event is scheduled to take place on Saturday at 7 p.m. ET. The "America's Night of Hope" gathering, which will be streamed live online for people all over the world to watch, will feature praise and worship and inspirational messages from Pastor Osteen, his wife Victoria Osteen and his mother, Dodie Osteen, in addition to appearances from various other guests.
Visit the America's Night of Hope website to participate in the live online broadcast, which allows participants to submit prayer requests and converse during the event.