The September day in 1991, when theology professor Jerry Sittser lost three generations of his family – his mother, his wife of 20 years, and his four-year-old daughter – in a car accident, was one of unspeakable tragedy. In the hours that followed, “I could not stop crying,” he wrote. “I could not silence the deafening noise of crunching metal, screaming sirens, and wailing children. I could not rid my eyes of the vision of violence, of shattering glass and shattered bodies. All I wanted was to be dead. Only the sense of responsibility for my three surviving children and the habit of living for forty years kept me alive.”
Jerry Sittser began teaching in the Whitworth Theology Department in spring 1989, less than two years before the accident. In the decades that have followed, Sittser has reached and comforted untold thousands through his empathetic writing on the universal experience of suffering and loss. His book, A Grace Disguised: How the Soul Grows Through Loss (1995, Zondervan) is a bestseller that has been translated into nearly 20 languages. His follow-up book, A Grace Revealed: How God Redeems the Story of Your Life (2012, Zondervan), earned an Award of Merit from Christianity Today.
In his writing Sittser explores the complex emotions of guilt and regret, being in denial, and the way our imaginations haunt us with what-if scenarios. He grapples with difficult theological questions and comes to understand that God is ever-present and ever- sovereign.
In A Grace Disguised, Sittser wrote, “I will always want the ones I lost back again. I long for them with all my soul. But I still celebrate the life I have found because they are gone. . . I lost the world I loved, but I gained a deeper awareness of grace. That grace has enabled me to clarify my purpose in life and rediscover the wonder of the present moment.”