Kate Bowler has cancer—stage IV colon cancer to be precise. A theology professor, a church historian, a wife, and the mother of a baby boy, she reels from her unexpected diagnosis. As she puts it in her memoir Everything Happens for a Reason (and Other Lies I’ve Loved), “One moment I was a regular person with regular problems. And the next, I was someone with cancer.” She goes on to share that her first response was to plead daily with God to save her: “a God of Maybe, who may or may not let me collect more years. It is a God I love, and a God that breaks my heart.”
Kate the human being is honest about her questions, her anger, and her fears. But this is not a book meant to provoke only our tears of sympathy; it will also provoke our tears of laughter. The author’s honest account of the reactions of others and their well-meaning words and prayers, as well as her stories of the amazing and clumsy things people do to support her, invite us to laugh along with her even as our hearts ache for her.
More importantly, Kate the theologian struggles with her—and our—desire, as people who believe in a loving and omnipotent God, to find a “good” reason for the tragedies in our lives. As a scholar of the prosperity gospel, she realizes that all of us want to claim just a slice of that same gospel; we want to know there is a holy and hidden logic behind this horrible thing that is happening to us. The heart of this book is about that struggle, and her conclusion is that there is no “good” reason for why bad stuff happens to us—that’s a lie, a lie we love to believe. God is not using us to prove anything.
There is no miraculous healing in this book; Kate ends her story not knowing what will happen next. All she knows is that “I will die, yes, but not today.” This book is for those of us who know someone with cancer and for those of us who don’t. This is a book for all of us who struggle with understanding why bad things happen to good people. This is a book that will make you cry and laugh in the same breath. This is a book for all of us who will die—just not today. (Random House)
Enjoyed this article?
Don’t miss this week’s must-read articles:
- Tell A Better Story
- ‘Rebirth’ for a Wisconsin Church
- Book review: A Church Called Tov, by Laura Barringer and Scot McKnight