Chapter 2: Dust

Welcome to The 2020 Spoonie Study! The Spoonie Study is a Bible study group intended for women with chronic illnesses who are over the age of 16.

Alright friends, if you couldn’t attend live that’s okay!

You can either continue reading for the written version of our discussion or watch the videos on IGTV! If the links below do not lead you to anything more than a blank screen on instagram you can click here or head to @officialcassiemnolin on instagram and all of these videos are in the IGTV 2020 Spoonie Study Series.


Welcome Everyone! For those who does not know I am leading a Bible study for women with chronic illnesses, and each week we read a chapter, answer chapter questions, and do a life group meeting on zoom about the book It’s Not Supposed To Be This Way by Lysa TerkeurstPlease note that this blog post is essentially the written version of the live stream that took place and is also available on IGTV (links above.)

Last week we started talking about wrestling well and how the enemy uses disappointment, and tonight we are going to talk about what God can do something with what we can do nothing with. 

And then, adding more salt to the wound, people started talking. I’d kept this hell I was walking through private, telling only a few friends and counselors. They were tender and helped me in ways I’ll never be able to repay. There are some really good people on this earth. But others weren’t so understanding or compassionate. And now realities and rumors were crushing me. I was experiencing the death of my “normal life.” But people don’t have funerals for “normal.” I was dealing with extreme grief from losing the person I loved the very most in this world. But instead of visiting a gravesite and mourning a death, I was visiting the rumor mill and being devastated by all the theories and opinions. My pillow was soaked with tears of which only I knew the real source. Not only was I dealing with deep personal pain, but I was experiencing firsthand the way broken people sometimes contribute to the brokenness of others.

TerKeurst, Lysa. It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way (p. 16). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition. 

Q How have other people’s opinions contributed to your own brokenness AND how have you contributed to others’ brokenness?

Friends, I remember when I told you this was going to be an authentic and real study, I meant it. I have been dealing with some pretty severe harassment for a little over a year now, and the false opinions of others have heightened the loss and grief that being diagnosed with a progressive chronic illness brings on it’s own. I have met some amazing encouragers who have supported me, but I have also met loads of disheartening and relentless discouragers. The second half of this question is uncomfortable to answer because it reminds us that no matter how hard we try, we are humans and we will intentionally or unintentionally hurt at least one other person in this lifetime. If I am being honest with myself, I have judged others silently and questioned their authenticity. Never in words, but in my heart, and these assumptions have led to me not supporting people as well as I could because I was so focused on me. 

Most of you know that the chronic illness community has become very toxic. Most people are deemed “guilty” of faking or over-exaggerating without even knowing the person, but here is where we can find hope. We ARE the chronic illness community and we CAN stop the cycle. We CAN fix this in how we treat others. The weight of chronic illnesses is enough on their own, let’s intentionally decide to stop contributing to others brokenness. 

We live in a broken world where broken things happen. So it’s not surprising that things get broken in our lives as well. But what about those times when things aren’t just broken but shattered beyond repair? Shattered to the point of dust. At least when things are broken there’s some hope you can glue the pieces back together. But what if there aren’t even pieces to pick up in front of you? You can’t glue dust. It’s hard to hold dust. What was once something so very precious is now reduced to nothing but weightless powder even the slightest wind could carry away. We feel desperately hopeless. Dust begs us to believe the promises of God no longer apply to us. That the reach of God falls just short of where we are. And that the hope of God has been snuffed out by the consuming darkness all around us. We want God to fix it all. Edit this story so it has a different ending. Repair this heartbreaking reality. But what if fixing, editing, and repairing isn’t at all what God has in mind for us in this shattering? What if, this time, God desires to make something completely brand-new? Right now. On this side of eternity. No matter how shattered our circumstances may seem. Dust is the exact ingredient God loves to use.

TerKeurst, Lysa. It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way (pp. 16-17). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition. 

Q When has your life felt shattered to the point of dust?

The first time I went through this book in my notes I wrote: “it feels shattered right now, it felt shattered in 2013, 2015, and now 2019.” If I had to narrow it down to one time that felt the most shattered, it would have been in 2015 when I dealt with significant memory loss and almost losing my life. I had to drop out of school and everything about my life changed. I got my EDS diagnosis- it was all too much. 

We think the shattering in our lives could not possibly be for any good. But what if shattering is the only way to get dust back to its basic form so that something new can be made? We can see dust as a result of an unfair breaking. Or we can see dust as a crucial ingredient. Think about a plain piece of ice. If the ice stays in a cube, it will always be just a square of ice. But if the ice melts it can be poured into a beautiful form to reshape it when frozen again. Dust is much the same; it’s the basic ingredient with such great potential for new life.

TerKeurst, Lysa. It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way (p. 17). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition. 

After having my life shattered a couple different times I wrestled with this image of the ice cube. I didn’t want to start new again. I didn’t want a new dream or path, I wanted the one I had planned for, dreamed of, and had gotten a taste of. Yet the second half of my notes to the question above, I can physically see that I handled losing our business in a different way as I wrote, “I don’t feel like I have the strength to take this dust and make something else again. Thankfully though I don’t need my own strength.” 

We can’t do much with dust, but look at all He has done with it:

Of all the things God could have used to make man, He chose to use dust. “Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being” (Genesis 2:7). Jesus used the dust of the ground to restore a man’s sight. Jesus said, “‘While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.’ After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes” (John 9:5–6). And after the man washed in the pool of Siloam, he went home seeing. And, when mixed with water, dust becomes clay. Clay, when placed in the potter’s hands, can be formed into anything the potter dreams up! Yet You, LORD, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. (ISAIAH 64:8) “Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does?” declares the LORD. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, Israel.” (Jeremiah 18:6) Dust doesn’t have to signify the end. Dust is often what must be present for the new to begin.

TerKeurst, Lysa. It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way (pp. 17-18). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition. 

He literally can take nothing and turn it into something. Even when we die and turn back to dust it’s not the end- at least not for those of us who have chosen Jesus because it is just the beginning of a literally perfect new life.

Her words hit my heart so deeply. She trusted His timing but nothing felt right! Last chapter, we talked about how we can do everything right and it still might not come out right because we live in a broken world. No matter how intentional our actions, they will never guarantee perfection. 

No matter how well I follow the rules, do what’s right, and seek to obey God with my whole heart, I can’t control my life. I can’t control God. It’s hard to type those words. Because I don’t want to control God. Until I do. When His timing seems questionable, His lack of intervention seems hurtful, and His promises seem doubtful, I get afraid. I get confused. And left alone with those feelings, I can’t help but feel disappointed that God isn’t doing what I assume a good God should do. I want to assume that God would have seen the rejection coming my way and stopped me from writing on that topic. Or better yet, I want to assume God would have intervened and prevented this rejection from happening in the first place. I want to assume that His promise to never leave me or forsake me means that He’s operating like a supernatural shield around me, preventing horrific things from happening to me and those I love.

TerKeurst, Lysa. It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way (pp. 23-24). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

Q What do you find yourself assuming about God or find tempting to believe about Him that isn’t true?

I think at times I like to assume that there are loopholes to His commands or that I am exempt from certain rules. I also find that I like to assume that every dream or feeling of confirmation is meant to be acted on immediately. Yes, He can answer us instantly when He wants to, but most of the time He has so much to show us on the “in-between” yet, I’d like to believe the “in-between” isn’t meant for me or just of Him.

Let’s open to Genesis 3:1-7 

1The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the Lord God had made. One day he asked the woman, “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?”

2 “Of course we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,” the woman replied.3 “It’s only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said, ‘You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.’”

4 “You won’t die!” the serpent replied to the woman. 5 “God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.”

6 The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too. 7 At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves.

Q how do you relate to Adam and Eve’s disobedience?

Just like Eve assumed, I am frequently assuming details rather than asking questions. I assume what others think, my doctor’s thoughts, Jared’s opinions etc.

I want to assume that my definition of best should be God’s definition of best. And that my definition of good should be God’s definition of good. I want to write the story of my life according to all my assumptions. Therefore, it’s impossible to escape the truth that I don’t want to relinquish control to God. I want to take control from God. And then I make the most dangerous assumption of all: I could surely do all of this better than God. Of course, I don’t ever verbalize any of that. But there it is. I picture Satan standing there, luring me in. He has control written on one of his hands and disappointment on the other. He holds out control and says, “Take control of your own life. Stop following God’s rules. When you’re in control you’ll be able to get everything you’ve ever felt denied by God.” And with his other hand he starts pointing to all the many disappointments of my life and questions, “Why would God keep good things from you? He’s such a restrictive God. His rules really shouldn’t apply to your situation. You actually know better.” Disappointment happens every time I come face-to-face with my absolute inability to control people, circumstances, and timing. If I could control all these things, I’d arrange my own version of perfection. I’d be the boss of my life and those in my life. And I’d do exactly what Adam and Eve did.

TerKeurst, Lysa. It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way (pp. 23-24). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

First of all I wonder if this first question from the serpent was asked quietly. The temptation started as a whisper of doubt and when we start listening to it we will be encouraged to start believing those lies. 

Q When have you heard a whisper of doubt about God’s goodness?

In my life, I have found that the enemy loves to try to convince me that God has forgotten about me. I can be tempted to believe that in this “in between” there is no good to be found. When we believe there is no good to be found, the enemy has successfully subdued you with the same lie he sold to Eve. 

Note how back in Genesis 2:16-17 when God gives the command He says,

And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil,for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”

Now look back to Genesis 3:1

The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the Lord God had made. One day he asked the woman, “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?”

God said: You are FREE to 

You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil

And the enemy twists it into:

Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?”

he took a protective command meant to keep us safe and turned it into a ridiculous restriction. he took a “You are Free to” God and turned Him into a “You must not God.” 

Q Do you view God as a “you must not” or a “you are free to” God? 

I see Him as a mix of both, but work really hard to see the freedom or protection in each command. Sometimes I can and other times I can’t. For example He makes it clear in Exodus that we are not to worship any other idols (not just statues… it can be money, social status, approval, sex, sport, passion, etc.) I can either focus on all I can’t worship or I can focus on all the ways I CAN worship Him. 

Yes God has rules that is true, but despite that tree, He gave them the WHOLE, PERFECT garden to dwell in. In Genesis 2:9, we can get an image of a beautiful paradise. Yet the enemy snuck in, and turned all she had into not enough. he was able to twist her eyes from all she STILL had to the one thing she didn’t have. 

Q how does this speak to your current situation?

It can be hard to see my friends working and living life while I can’t work or get out much. Yet God has given us the perfect place to live where I truly enjoy my space and rarely ever get “cabin fever” and has surrounded me with a few close friends who travel out here 1-2x a month to visit. He has given me the technology to keep up with family, friends, mentors, and even our church! I firmly believe that once we have allowed ourselves to grieve what we have lost and bathe in brokenness that after we can look around and find the good. When my life was shattered in the worst way (and even now when I have days where life shatters before my very eyes) I make myself list 3 things I am grateful for. Even if I don’t “believe it” in that moment I say it. It can be big things like getting a stair lift put in to the sun shining that day. 

Please see how dangerous this assumption was. She got alone with her own thoughts and assumptions. And it led her to doubt God. And take control to get what she wanted. What she thought was best.

TerKeurst, Lysa. It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way (p. 25). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition. 

Eve’s assumption that she would die when she touched the fruit seemed to prove God wrong. And it reinforced the lie of the serpent that she could be like God. She didn’t die. So, maybe she did know better. This very dangerous perception could have helped her justify the next step of eating the fruit. This is the progression of sin.

TerKeurst, Lysa. It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way (p. 26). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition. 

We have to be aware when working to follow God’s commands that we do not add to them. The pharisees were caught up on rules and notoriously added extra measures to them. Even Eve did so here, she added to God’s rule saying that she couldn’t even touch the fruit… when God never said that. He said she couldn’t eat it. This could have lead to her disobedience, she touched it, didn’t die, and DOUBTED His commands by then eating it. We have to make sure we are fact checking what God says for ourselves and not just listen to sermons or speakers.

Q Have you ever added to one of God’s commands?

I used to believe and reinforce that if you don’t spend time with God in the morning and do a devotional, Bible reading, and prayer time that you weren’t spending time with God “right.” I was challenged to face the additions I added to time with God when my husband prefers to do His quiet time with God before bed. I was also convicted by a mentor when I told her that if I can’t do all three parts to my time with God then it’s not worth doing any of it. I was SO wrong. 

Okay so by now we have established we are all sinners, we are all notoriously wrong, and being shattered to dust allows Him to make something new out of something we didn’t want Him to change in the first place. Pretty depressing. BUT this is where God changes everything.

But here’s the good news: even when we follow in Eve’s footsteps, when we try to take control and make assumptions and misunderstand God on every level, He still has a plan. A good plan. A plan to make something from dust. And eventually we will understand that God hasn’t denied us the best. He’s offering us the very best by offering Himself. He is our only source of perfection on this side of eternity. And He sees a perfect plan for our dust. We may be afraid of all the disappointment of this broken world. But God isn’t afraid. He’s aware. So very aware of His ultimate plans and purposes. It isn’t to keep us from getting shattered. It’s to keep our souls connected, so deeply connected to Himself. And let’s be honest, if we weren’t ever disappointed, we’d settle for the shallow pleasures of this world rather than addressing the spiritual desperation of our souls. We don’t think about fixing things until we realize they are broken. And even then we don’t call in the experts until we surrender to the realization we cannot fix things on our own. If our souls never ached with disappointments and disillusionments, we’d never fully admit and submit to our need for God. If we weren’t ever shattered we’d never know the glorious touch of the Potter making something glorious out of dust, out of us.

TerKeurst, Lysa. It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way (pp. 26-27). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

If I want His promises, I have to trust His process. I have to trust that first comes the dust, and then comes the making of something even better with us. God isn’t ever going to forsake you, but He will go to great lengths to remake you. What if disappointment is really the exact appointment your soul needs to radically encounter God?

TerKeurst, Lysa. It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way (p. 28). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition. 

Q In what ways can you willingly trust God’s process for your life?

I am going to stay close to Him in my grief, allow myself to go through the grieving process without a deadline, ask Him to reveal His heart to me, study His commands from His word on my own so I don’t get caught up in restrictions He didn’t give me, and faithfully learn about His promises so I can watch them come to life.

Here are some thoughts as we finish out this chapter:

We live in a broken world where broken things happen.

Dust is the exact ingredient God loves to use.

God speaks in a language of freedom; Satan speaks in a language of restriction.

God is our only source of perfection on this side of eternity. And He sees a perfect plan for our dust.

If I want His promises I have to trust His process.

God isn’t ever going to forsake you, but He will go to great lengths to remake you.

What if disappointment is really the exact appointment your soul needs to radically encounter God?

TerKeurst, Lysa. It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way (p. 30). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition. 

Prayer From Lysa:

Father, This world is broken and broken things happen- yes. Even still, I can’t help but feel utterly shattered and disillusioned when heartbreak is a part of my story. I don’t like this- I don’t like dust. But dust is one of Your favorite ingredients to use when making something new, and I believe You are working right now to do this very thing in my life. I know You will never forsake me, but that You will go to great lengths to remake me. Thank You. In Jesus’ name, amen.