A Grace Disguised – Jerry Sittser

A Grace Disguised Jerry Sittser
A Grace Disguised Revised and Expanded: How the Soul Grows through Loss by Jerry L. Sittser
Published by Zondervan on November 16, 2021
Genres: Non-Fiction, Christian Life
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With vulnerability and honesty, Jerry Sittser walks through his own grief and loss to show that new life is possible--one marked by spiritual depth, joy, compassion, and a deeper appreciation of simple and ordinary gifts. This 25th anniversary edition features a new introduction and two additional chapters, one which provides help for pastors and counselors.
Loss came suddenly for Jerry Sittser. In an instant, a tragic car accident claimed three generations of his family: his mother, his wife, and his young daughter. While most of us will not experience such a catastrophic loss in our lifetime, all of us will face some kind of loss in life. But we can, if we choose, know the grace that transforms us.
Whether your suffering has come in the form of chronic illness, disability, divorce, unemployment, crushing disappointment, or the loss of someone you love, Sittser will help you put your thoughts into words in a way that will guide you deeper into your own healing process.
This revised edition of A Grace Disguised plumbs the depths of our sorrows, asks questions many people are afraid to ask, and provides hope in its answers:
Will the pain ever subside?Will my life ever be good again?Will the depression ever lift?Will I ever overcome the bitterness I feel?What is God's plan in all of this?The circumstances are not important; what we do with those circumstances is. In coming to the end of ourselves, we can come to the beginning of a new life.

The title of A Grace Disguised is somewhat a reference to classic C.S. Lewis book, A Grief Observed. In that book, Lewis collects essays written in the wake of his wife’s death from cancer. It’s a raw, vulnerable book that is obviously tinged by grief in all its aspects. It was by chance that I had just finished listening to Lewis’s book when A Grace Disguised arrived. This, too, is a classic. Jerry Sittser originally published it 25 years ago in the wake of his own tragic loss when a car wreck killed his mother, wife, and daughter. Sittser, unlike Lewis, not only chronicles his grief but his soul growth through that grief. Not that grief ever goes away. Not that you ever “get over it.” But Sittser chronicles both the darkness of grief and the light that pierces through that darkness.

In this 25th anniversary edition of A Grace Disguised, Sittser largely leaves the text unchanged but you do see some additions made—helping the reader understand how grief changes over the years. It’s a beautiful, reflective, vulnerable, personal work that’s still universally applicable and understandable. Our loss may not be like Sittser’s loss. Or Lewis’s. But we will have loss. Whether we’re in the middle of that pain or working through the end of it, A Grace Disguised helps readers understand how they might come out the other side.

This is a difficult book to read. I want to make that clear. There were times where I put the book down to reflect in Sittser’s loss. There were times I put the book down to reflect on my own. While it’s a book for those recovering from loss, I would not call it a book for those in the immediacy of it. A Grace Disguised is there for the recovery, for solidary, for exhortation, for support. It’s an intensely personal story of dealing with loss and healing from brokenness that invites others to reflect on their own brokenness and what they need to do in order to heal.

For the most part, Sittser simply tells his story and gets out of the way. He doesn’t moralize. He doesn’t offer a tried-and-true plan for recovery. He doesn’t ask people to heal in the way he healed. He just tells his story and allows that life-as-story to do its work. One of the most poignant chapters for me was where he talks about the terror of randomness—both the randomness of loss and randomness with which one experiences reminders of that loss. In the end, A Grace Disguised doesn’t offer easy answers. It asks hard questions, offers difficult answers worked out through personal experience, and admits the journey is personal for everyone. We will all experience loss. We will all need this book.