A Grace Disguised: How the Soul Grows Through Loss,by Gerald L. Sittser (Zondervan, 184 pp.; $12.99, hardcover). Reviewed by Christopher A. Hall, who teaches biblical and theological studies at Eastern College.
In the fall of 1991, the unexpected and inconceivable engulfed the family of Gerald Sittser. Within the space of a few seconds, Sittser's life was forever changed. A head-on collision with the car of a drunken driver suddenly snuffed out the life of Sittser's wife, mother, and four-year-old daughter. In A Grace Disguised: How the Soul Grows Through Loss, Sittser guides his reader through his responses to this catastrophic event and his reflections on what it could possibly mean. How does one survive such drastic losses? What are the possible choices a believer in an infinitely good and powerful God can make in response to such deep tragedy?
As the reality of his loss icily encompassed him, Sittser was flattened by waves of panic, anger, disorientation, and depression. Overwhelming pain and sorrow were soon to become his constant companions. And yet, in the midst of his initial shock, confusion, and grief, Sittser discerned that the only way to survive the accident was to embrace rather than deny what had occurred and to search for God's grace in the midst of its horror. He writes that the "two hours between the accident and our arrival at the hospital became the most vivid, sobering, memorable moments of reflection I have ever had or will ever have."
As those two hours passed, Sittser pondered the possibilities before him:
In that brief window of time I exhausted all possibilities except one. I realized that I would have to suffer and adjust; I could not avoid it or escape it. There was no way but ahead, into the abyss. ...1