The Sweet Bitterness of Grief

Product DetailsI mentioned this excellent book awhile back: A Grace Disguised by Jerry Sittser.  He wrote it after he lost his mother, wife, and daughter in a car accident.  On the topic of grief this book is one of the best.  Here’s a quote that got my attention in a big way:

“The accident itself bewilders me as much today as it did three years ago.  Much good has come from it, but all the good in the world will never make the accident itself good.  It remains a horrible, tragic, and evil event to me.  A million people could be helped as a result of the tragedy, but that would not be enough to explain and justify it.  The badness of the event and the goodness of the results are related, to be sure, but they are not the same.  The latter is a consequence of the former, but the latter does not make the former legitimate or right or good.  I do not believe that I lost three members of my family in order that I might change for the better, raise three healthy children, or write a book.  I still want them back, and I always will, no matter what happens as a result of their deaths.”

“Yet the grief I feel is sweet as well as bitter.  I still have a sorrowful soul; yet I wake up every morning joyful, eager for what the new day will bring.  Never have I felt as much pain as I have in the last three years; never have I experienced as much pleasure in simply being alive and living an ordinary life.  Never have I felt so broken; yet never have I been so whole.  Never have I been so aware of my weakness and vulnerability; yet never have I been so content and felt so strong.  Never has my soul been more dead; yet never has my soul been more alive.  What I once considered mutually exclusive – sorrow and joy, pain and pleasure, death and life – have become parts of a greater whole.  My soul has been stretched.”

“Above all, I have become aware of the power of God’s grace and my need for it.  My soul has grown because it has been awakened to the goodness and love of God.  God has been present in my life these past three years, even mysteriously in the accident.  God will continue to be present to the end of my life and through all eternity.  God is growing my soul, making it bigger, and filling it with himself.  My life is being transformed.  Though I have endured pain, I believe that the outcome is going to be wonderful” (198-199).

Jerry Sittser, A Grace Disguised.

rev shane lems