The Rev. Magrey deVega, our Senior Pastor, preached the final sermon of our “That’s Not in the Bible” series on the topic of “Everything happens for a reason.” People say this in order to hold on to the belief that there is no randomness in the world, there is no circumstance, there is no purposelessness to life. When it comes to suffering, it is unjust and improper to say that God is the source of suffering or even allows suffering, in order to use it toward some ultimate reason or purpose. That is simply not in the Bible, and it is harmful and dangerous to believe that. God does not cause our suffering in order to use it for some greater purpose. But God is in our suffering with us, in order to bring out the good that can come from it.
Well, on this last day of this series, I’ll share with you that this series was inspired in part by a best-selling book by Kate Bowler called, “Everything Happens for a Reason, and Other Lies I’ve Loved.” Ms. Bowler is a professor of Christian history at Duke Divinity School and was diagnosed with incurable colon cancer at the age of 35. Her memoir is a powerful meditation on how she let go of parts of the faith that were unhealthy and embraced a faith that was brave, beautiful and life-giving.
At the end of the book, she offers a helpful appendix of Six Helpful Things to Tell Someone Who is Suffering1. It would be helpful for us to remember them:
1. “I’d love to bring you a meal this week. Can I email you about it?”
2. “You are a beautiful person.”
3. “I am so grateful to hear about how you’re doing. Just know that I’m on your team.”
4. “Can I give you a hug?”
5. “Oh, my friend, that sounds so hard.”
1 “Everything Happens for a Reason, and Other Lives I’ve Loved,” Copyright © 2018 by Kate Bowler. Published by Random House, New York.