Life is full of tensions — good things and bad things happen nearly simultaneously, pulling our emotions like a cosmic tug-of-war.
We watch with deep sadness the burning of a beloved cathedral like Notre Dame while in the same moment we weep tears of gratitude to see people linked arm-in-arm singing hymns, united by their loss.
In the middle of a season of deep grief when we lose a grandfather gone from us too soon, we rejoice in the birth of a new life, precious and perfect.
As we celebrate the joining of a young couple, full of love and hope for the future, we feel the depth of betrayal in our own broken relationship.
In the same breath, we thank God for a new job and the provision it means for our family, then pour out our despair over having to move, leaving behind everyone we love and hold dear.
This is our life. It’s ALL of this. A big jumbled mess of emotions and circumstances and dreams…all of which bring disappointments — of all sizes and impacts.
In Lysa TerKeurst’s newest book, It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way: Finding Unexpected Strength When Disappointments Leave You Shattered, she helps us recognize this merging of good and bad — that life is rarely just highs then lows. It’s really highs and lows all at once.
Lysa steps out of her own season of deep sorrow and pain to share with us what she’s learned, offering a lifeline that we can use to keep our lives from being swept under by the crashing waves. A lifeline of hope and strength and purpose that only God can give. And she calls those hard parts of life disappointments.
Disappointment = that gap between our expectations and our actual experiences.
Have you ever wondered why God allows the pain of life’s disappointments? Or why we even experience them at all?
Over the last couple of years, I’ve had more than one Bible teacher tackle these very questions. And they’ve gone back to the beginning — the Garden of Eden, where life was created and functioned as God always intended — with perfect harmony in all creation, perfect balance, perfect provision, perfect relationship between God and the people He created.
Sandra Richter (of Epic of Eden goodness) says that we all have a deep part of us that rebels against the unfair and hard things life throws at us because somewhere in us we know that this is not how it’s supposed to be. Dr. Richter would respond — because it’s not. God didn’t intend for life to be so hard, so unfair, so full of pain.
In her book, Lysa teaches the same concept — in the Garden of Eden, where Adam and Eve walked with God and knew no shame or pain or lack or evil, that’s how life was supposed to be.
But then we humans (Adam and Eve) decided we might know better than God what we need. And we took things in our own hands.
As a result, we now live in a fallen, broken world full of shame and pain and lack and evil. And we think to ourselves, over and over…it’s not supposed to be this way.
Lysa’s book and corresponding study set out to help us navigate how we live with strength and hope today, despite all the fallenness and hardness and unfairness. She has discovered through her own hard season of great pain those very things — strength and hope. And she desires to help us do the same.
After all, this is exactly why Jesus came — why God became human, walked this earth, lived among us, died for us, and was resurrected by the power of the Holy Spirit — so that we don’t have to live in despair, without hope, and in our own strength.
Jesus wants to be our strength and hope.
This Holy Week, it’s good to stop and think on these things — the truths of our faith, the truths of who God is, the truths of what Jesus accomplished. Lysa’s story and her teaching will equip and encourage us in the middle of all the good and bad of life.
I invite you to join me in this study of Lysa’s book, It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way over the next few weeks. We’ll take our time exploring all she has to say, working toward a transformation in our own hearts and minds and souls.
Thanking Jesus for all He is,