In his book, “A Grace Disguised,” Jerry Sittser, professor at Whitworth University in Spokane, Washington writes about an experience that we can only hope will never happen to us. His two oldest children were in elementary school and studying Native American culture. He and his wife Linda decided to pack up their kids and do a family field trip to attend a pow-wow at a Native American reservation not far from their home. They piled all four of their kids into the family minivan, and since Jerry’s mother, Grace, was visiting from out of town, Grandma joined them on the excursion. They went and talked with tribal leaders about their culture and way of life on the reservation, and then they went to the pow-wow. For hours, the kids all danced with members of the tribe until it was time to go home.
About 10 minutes later on a lonely stretch of highway, Jerry Sittser noticed an oncoming car driving extremely fast. He slowed on a curve, but the other car didn’t. It jumped its lane and crashed head on into the Sittsers’ van. One by one in those moments, Jerry Sittser lost, as they died in his arms, his wife, Lynda, his daughter, Diana Jane, and his mother, Grace. Think about that, -- his wife, his daughter, and his mother, -- three generations gone in an instant.
Over the coming months Jerry Sittser’s soul was an unending torture chamber of pain, anger, despair, and depression. He said the only thing that kept him going was that he had to care for the other three children. Jerry Sittser’s book, “A Grace Disguised” is one of the most eloquent books on suffering and comfort you will ever read. Beyond that, it is a wonderful book on the amazing grace of God.
In his book, Jerry Sittser makes this remarkable statement, “Sooner or later all people suffer loss, in little doses or big ones, suddenly or over time.... The experience of loss does not have to be the defining moment of our lives. Instead our defining moment can be our response to the loss. It’s not what happens to us that matters so much as what happens in us.”
This Sunday, I am beginning a two month sermon series titled, “Friend-Shape,” as we will be examining some of the more important friendships in the Bible. This Sunday, we will be looking at a “Comforting Friendship,” which Jerry Sittser needed in his time of grief, and what we all invariably need as we encounter struggles in life. So, please join us for worship this Sunday, May 2, as we discuss further this idea of godly friendship. You can join us in person at either 8:00 am or 10:30 am in our newly remodeled sanctuary, or at 10:30 am via Zoom, Facebook Live, and Youtube.