9 Ways Suicide Affects Others
Memoir is, by nature, truth-telling. In his new moving memoir Even in Our Darkness, Jack Deer tells the truth about one of the most painful themes repeated throughout his life: suicide.
On January 21, 1961, Dad woke to an empty house, poured whiskey in his coffee, swallowed some barbiturates, and scribbled an angry note.
Sometime before noon, he walked over to the record player in front of the two windows in our living room. He put on Floyd Cramer’s “Last Date,” setting the turntable to repeat. Then he sat down on the red sofa with gold embroidery and picked up his childhood rifle. He shoved one .22-caliber shell into the chamber, pressed the muzzle between his eyes, and left a thirty-four-year-old widow with a tenth-grade education…
The Truth About Suffering
“I will say, with memoir,” Elie Wiesel is quoted as saying, “you must be honest, you must be truthful.”
Jack Deere tells the truth in his new book Even in Our Darkness. Not merely about his own life, but about life.
Deere’s story is one of beauty in a broken life brimming with the kind of authenticity and realism, failure and fortitude, darkness and light we need to help us and others make sense of life in all of its trueness.
Under Deere’s guidance, truth—his truth, life’s truth—is “profoundly unmasked, unsettling, and unforgettable.” Beginning with the truth about suffering.
There were three insights I gleaned from his raw, harrowing account of life.
Suffering is Mysterious
Deere’s opening paragraph illustrates the truth of suffering’s mystery with painful precision:
On the morning of…
4 Major Themes in First Peter and the Story of God
Martin Luther called the letter “one of the grandest of the New Testament.” Early church fathers Clement of Rome and Polycarp of Smyrna were inspired by the letter’s consoling, hopeful words. More recently, Karen Jobes said the five-chapter General Epistle is “significant for the church,” especially the Majority World church.
I’m referring to the first letter of Peter, which has a new guide today to help its readers navigate its major themes: Dennis Edwards’ 1 Peter (The Story of God Bible Commentary series). Of this letter Edwards writes:
First Peter will assist us by affirming our Christian identity, guiding us in our relationships within and without the Christian…
Do We Entrust God with Our Soul or with Everything? (1 Peter 4:19) — Mondays with Mounce 248
Peter concludes a discussion on suffering with these words. “Therefore, let those suffering in accordance with God’s will entrust (παρατιθέσθωσαν) themselves (τὰς ψυχὰς αὐτῶν) to a faithful Creator, while continuing to do good” (1 Pet 4:19, NRSV).
A friend asked me two questions. The first has to do with the translation of παρατίθημι. While most translations use “entrust,” the NIV uses “commit.” At first I didn’t hear the distinction, which makes a good point. We tend to hear words slightly differently; that’s what makes translation so difficult. But the more I looked at it, I started to hear the difference. “Commit” sounds like a single act of the will, something you do at a point in time. “Entrust” sounds more like an attitude of the will, an attitude of trusting in the midst of difficult circumstances.