No cure for being human

That’s the title of the short book I just read by Kate Bowler, PhD, a Canadian author and Professor of Christian History at Duke Divinity School. Bowler’s area of study is the “prosperity gospel,” the American idea that God rewards you with health and wealth if you have the right kind of faith.

Bowler was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer at age 35.

The irony of a believer, seminary professor, and national expert on the prosperity gospel getting a terminal diagnosis was not lost on her.

If you struggle with a serious diagnosis, for yourself or a loved one; if you think “everything happens for a reason;” or if you wonder what to say to someone who’s hurting, you should read this book.

Bowler doesn’t give a list of answers.

Rather, she chronicles the things that friends, acquaintances, doctors, technicians, and even strangers said to her while she was trying to come to grips with her own finitude. But Bowler is a person of faith. She doesn’t struggle as a person who’s devoid of hope.

A long time ago, Jesus was faced with his own finitude. It was hours until his arrest. In less than a day he’d be dead. Jesus knows how hard life can be. In dark moments, it’s helpful if we can remember that he didn’t give us platitudes.

In giving his life he gave us a future.

Kate Bowler told of going to an Easter sunrise service led by her pastor friend Richard who had his own terminal diagnosis. Seeing Kate sitting on a folding chair on the lawn, he looked at her and grinned. Kate said, “I broke all decorum and waved.”

As Richard opened his mouth to preach, he paused for a breath, and glanced back toward the sun coming up through the trees. “His mouth twisted in a look of wry astonishment, as if surprised to see the sunrise once again.”

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