A powerful piece by Kate Bowler of Duke Divinity. She has literally written the book on the prosperity gospel and was recently diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. She notes the irony of her having written a book about the gospel of “being #blessed” and then being struck down with a likely death sentence.
The most I can say about why I have cancer, medically speaking, is that bodies are delicate and prone to error. As a Christian, I can say that the Kingdom of God is not yet fully here, and so we get sick and die. And as a scholar, I can say that our society is steeped in a culture of facile reasoning.
The prosperity gospel, she points out, argues that we just have to believe and think positively and we will be blessed, nothing bad will happen to us. The problem is that when the realities of this world come upon us we are then left with cold comfort from such “good news.” The healing gospel is not “believe and you will be blessed with health and comfort” rather it is “believe and know that the suffering and pain of this world is not all there is; ‘the Kingdom of God is not yet fully here.’”
But cancer has also ushered in new ways of being alive. Even when I am this distant from Canadian family and friends, everything feels as if it is painted in bright colors. In my vulnerability, I am seeing my world without the Instagrammed filter of breezy certainties and perfectible moments. I can’t help noticing the brittleness of the walls that keep most people fed, sheltered and whole. I find myself returning to the same thoughts again and again: Life is so beautiful. Life is so hard.