The Stories We Tell
For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there until they have watered the earth … so shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and succeed in the thing for which I sent it. – Isaiah 55:10-11 (NRSV)
I don’t believe everything happens for a reason.
When someone dies, I don’t believe it’s because God needed another angel. When bad things happen, I don’t believe God is punishing us. I don’t believe God dispenses suffering, much less measures it out. I don’t believe everything will work out.
Most of us prefer certainty over mystery, and the more uncertain things are, the more likely we are to tell stories to make sense of things. Stories like: “Everything happens for a reason.” Stories like: “God doesn’t give us more than we can handle.” Stories about doors closing and windows opening.
From whether democracy will survive our national sins, to when our hearts and institutions will reflect the reality that Black lives matter; from how to live with hope as the climate changes, to when we can go back to school and church and travel and please God hugging – it’s only natural to want clarity.
I believe there are some things we can count on: God’s goodness, for example. God’s constant presence. God’s transforming love, and Spirit’s power to heal and restore. That Love’s purpose will be fulfilled.
I believe God’s word is as sure as the most fundamental cycles of life. I believe God’s word is truer than any story we can make up. That we can count on it. We can build our lives on it. We can rejoice in it.
For the best story that ever was, and is, and that you are in it with us, thank you.
Vicki Kemper is the Pastor of First Congregational, UCC, of Amherst, Massachusetts.