Jack Deere’s memoir is shocking and naked, unvarnished and raw. It is the story of a boy and a man, whom God loves. As I read, the Bible verse that came to my mind was John’s words in Revelation 12:11.
They conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; for they did not love their lives to the point of death.
This book is Jack’s testimony, the story of what God did in Jack’s life. What did God do? He has been loving Jack, through his lifetime.
The last paragraph summarizes the book;
For years, I refused to speak publicly about my son’s death. I did not want to be like a preacher in a John Updike novel who “forges God’s name on every sentence he speaks.” In those years, I was also learning that when the worst day of your life comes, it is only the beginning of bad. Suddenly it seemed that everybody had a better story than mine. Then my story got worse. God took away about everything I used to fuel my self-esteem until there was nothing left except his love. And for the first time, I felt his love apart from anything I could offer him. And then I no longer needed a better story.
Jack had two massive losses in his life. First his dad and then his son.
In the midst of that, he became a Christian, got saved. Then he became a leader and a teacher.
He married a girl who loved God, despite having a horrible father. They had three kids. They lost one.
Jack’s story is a story of friendship. Jack is a friend of God and also has had many friends.
Jack’s story is about sin, suffering, and redemption. It is about faith. It is about honesty and pain.
He asks the question of what happens to your story, when there is a loss, like the death of his son. And the answer is that a new story begins.
In recovery circles, we meet people like ourselves, who are self-proclaimed ‘miracles’. But many people don’t make it or continue to live in torment.
Jack tells of many instances when he was wrong or missed it. There is a lot in here about the foolishness of pride, fig leaves, grief, anger, control, self-esteem, honesty, and unconditional love.
After the death of their son and ten years of addiction trauma, Jack got the idea to tell his story, write a memoir. I am so glad he did.
When we tell our honest stories, we become authentic people of whom God has worked in our lives. This is powerful, because, like the Amazing Grace song, we learn that we are all sinners and have been sinned against, and are being redeemed. No shame, but failures all.
Jack’s book reminds me of C.S. Lewis, in his story, depicted in Shadowlands, when he gets really mad at God, because his wife is dying of cancer. When I saw him, depicted in the film, being real with God, raw and unedited, it endeared me to him; and gave more power to everything he wrote.
Jack’s book also reminds me of Ann Kiemel. She seemed to have had a charmed life, but then had some major suffering in the second half. I liked her before and after her revelations.
Jack’s honesty also reminds me of Paul Young and his story.
A great lesson for leaders and teachers, from Jack’s book, is self-disclosure. Tell your story, of God and you.
I was a member at Jack’s church for 4 years, when I was in my twenties. And I had almost no idea about his story. I just knew that his dad might have committed suicide and that he might have been worried that he didn’t go to heaven. But I heard an older minister encourage Jack that suicide is not the unforgivable sin and that his dad was in the Lord’s presence. That endeared him to me, because my grandpa and later my dad, had mental illness.
Here are links to Jack talking with Eric Metaxas:
Some other reviews of Even in Our Darkness:
Matthew R. Bardowell
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