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Week Three | Paintings & People

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Week Three | It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way  Online Bible Study
Reading Assignment – Chapters 5 & 6 | Pages 72-107

We were standing in his living room waiting for the rest of our Bible study group to show up when he told me,
“I prayed that God would stretch you.”

Excuse me?  What!?!  I was appalled by his words and the confidence in his tone.  They stung as if he had slapped me across the face.

I had just shared how difficult the season I was in had been, trying to remain hopeful as I was slowly being eaten up by the stress and demands of my job.  And his response, it sure wasn’t anything like the sympathetic reaction my heart was longing for.

But Jesse continued, “I prayed that God would stretch you during this time.  To allow the struggles I knew you would face in your position to grow you, to help you learn new things, and to cause you to truly rely on Him.”

With that, I exhaled a “thank you” through tear-filled eyes, even though I knew that the following day would have me up against the wall as I continued to try to keep the organization afloat, all while I did my best to keep my own head above water.  A singular part of me believed in the hope that my friend had, that one day I would look back on that season and see God’s fingerprints covering every bit of it.

The book of James says,
For you know when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. James 1:3

That’s what Jesse prayed for me and I wish I could say that his prayer, which helped me change my own, brought about a transformation in record time.  But the test continued for another six months with new and different challenges every.single.day.

Just like Lysa says in chapter six, it felt cruel, and God felt distant, quiet, as I prepared for battle every day.

You know the saying, that “when you are going through something hard and wonder where God is, remember the teacher is always quiet during a test”.  It’s a great saying unless you’re the one being tested.

The battle-weary soul of Lysa shared something very similar in chapter six,

I want the promised blessing of Psalm 40:4: ‘Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord.’  I forget that this kind of trusting in God is often forged in the crucible of longsuffering.  God isn’t picking on me.  God is picking me to personally live out one of His promises.  It’s a high honor.  But it doesn’t always feel that way.”
Lysa TerKeurst, It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way (Pg. 95-96)

As deeply flawed humans, we struggle to accept the partnership with God in walking out our calling and helping to fulfill His will.  We feel inadequate and not-at-all worthy.  And we question how our messy lives could possibly be made into a message to speak into the lives of others.  But as Lysa says,

We are most triumphant when we place our disappointments in God’s hands and say, “Lord, I trust You to redeem this and return it to me as part of my testimony.”  Our disappointments in ourselves — in our lives — aren’t just isolated pieces of evidence that we fall short and life is hard.  No, they are the exact places where we can break secrecy with fellow humans and show up to say, “Me too.  I get it.  I understand.  You aren’t alone.  Together, we can find our way home.'”
Lysa TerKeurst, It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way (Pg. 80)

Certainly, there are still questions about the need for all of the mess that I walked through during that time, and there’s undoubtedly emotional scars that remain from that time, but as I knew it then, I know it even better today, that God was there in the midst of it all.

He was there during the breaking of me, which later became the making of me.


Let’s chat!  We’d love to hear from you once you’ve had some time to read through this week’s reading assignments.  Come back to this space & share your thoughts in the comments below about:

Identify – In this week’s reading we’re called to consider God’s presence, process, purpose, preparation, and promise.

How does this help you with your own disappointments?

In the Word – This week’s Scripture focus comes from 1 Peter 5:10 (NIV). Download our weekly Scripture card.  Print it and hang it in a place where you’ll come across it often this week, to aid in memorization.

Share with us in the comments; we’d love to hear from you!

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  1. So much in these chapters! I think that considering God’s presence, process, purpose, preparation, and promise really highlight His sovereignty in the midst of my heartbreaks. I think that the sovereignty of God and how He works in the midst of our fallen world is often difficult to understand and is misunderstood by many. I am really appreciating how Lysa is fleshing out some deep truths about who God is and how He works. These are not comfortable and fun things that I hear talked about often in Christian teaching. But this is the stuff of real life, and we need to know who God is and where God is in our suffering. I am glad He is good, loving, merciful, and forgiving. These “5Ps” remind me that God is truly there and working and loving and not taken off guard or not just being cruel. This doesn’t take away my pain in seasons of trials, but it gives me a true Hope to cling to as I walk the “tightrope.”

  2. I think considering God’s presence, process, purpose, preparation, and promise is crucial during times of suffering and disappointment. By dividing on these things, we are then forcing ourselves to also focus on the character of who Good is. Our circumstances and situations are always changing but our God does not change. Meditating on these truths gives us the hope we need to endure through life’s disappointments.

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