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.
SPOONIE STUDY- INSTBTW CHP 3
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 Terkeurst. Please 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.)
We start off this chapter with Lysa acknowledging that yes we know our dust will allow us to be gloriously remade, but what do we do right now, here, in the middle… this current day. We all wish there was a step by step plan to follow but sadly it does not work that way. There is no “easy way” to grieve and there surely isn’t a simple way to cope with your diagnosis.
Feeling the pain is the first step toward healing the pain. The longer we avoid the feeling, the more we delay our healing. We can numb it, ignore it, or pretend it doesn’t exist, but all those options lead to an eventual breakdown, not a breakthrough. The feeling of the pain is like a warning light on the dashboard of our car. The light comes on to indicate something is wrong. We can deny it. We can ignore it. We can assume it’s a little glitch in the operating panel. We can even go to the mechanic and ask him to turn off that annoying little light. But if he’s a good mechanic, he would tell you it’s foolish not to pay attention to it. Because if you don’t attend to it, you will soon experience a breakdown. The warning light isn’t trying to annoy you. It’s trying to protect you. And pain is much the same. It’s the pain we feel that finally demands we slow down enough to address what’s really going on below the surface. I don’t know what pain you are going through today. But I suspect whatever it is, it’s got some roots of disappointment. You didn’t think life would be like this. You didn’t think circumstances would be like this. You didn’t think you’d be like this. You didn’t think they would be like this. You didn’t think God would be like this.TerKeurst, Lysa. It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way (pp. 36-37). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
Our attitudes are indications of our feelings, they are our hearts check engine light. Our attitudes change how we interact with God.
Q Which of your prayers feel as though they are currently going unanswered by God as if He is ignoring your check engine light?
To be able to financially contribute to our family, and to lessen the fatigue. Last night in the live discussion, we realized healing wasn’t brought up. Now it’s not because we don’t believe God could heal us, we know that He can at any time, BUT we have accepted that we might not see healing on this side of heaven. This change in attitude allows us to interact with God to the best of our abilities and wrestle well with all He has asked us to walk through.
Lysa goes on to explain what she felt like when God was not relieving her pain, and I’m sure we can all relate.
At first, my mind couldn’t think rationally at all. I was just panicked, trying to figure out how to get immediate relief from my pain. I was in the urgency of the moment. But as the panic started to give way to desperation, I cried out for God to help me. “Take the pain away! Please, dear God, take this pain away!” But He didn’t. Not that moment. Not the next. Not even the next day. His silence stunned me. How could God do that? How could He say I’m His daughter whom He deeply loves but let me lie there in excruciating pain? I have children. And if I could take away their pain, without a doubt I would. God could do that. But He was choosing not to. C. S. Lewis wrote, “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the Sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”1 I like that quote. It’s certainly Facebook-worthy. But in the context of my hospital bed, when the darkness of pain seemed to block out any sliver of light, a rebellious doubt drummed inside my head: What do you see now? I saw pain. I saw myself desperately crying out to God. I saw no evidence that God was doing anything with my cries. I saw painful minutes turn into hours and then turn into days. I saw doctors scratching their heads. I saw tears in my mom’s eyes. I saw fear in my family’s eyes. I saw bewilderment in my friends’ eyes. But I didn’t see God doing anything about any of this. And isn’t that what deeply troubles us about this whole relationship thing we’re encouraged to have with God? Doesn’t a relationship mean you show up when needed? Few things affect me more than being disappointed by those people who love me. But being disappointed by the fact that God doesn’t seem to be showing up during times of my greatest need? That wrecks my soul. It’s not that I expect God to fix everything about my situation. But I do expect Him to do something. I kept picturing Him standing beside my bed seeing my anguish, watching my body writhing in pain, hearing my cries but making the choice to do nothing. And I couldn’t reconcile that.TerKeurst, Lysa. It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way (pp. 38-39). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
Q When have you felt like God wasn’t showing up and doing something about your pain?
I still struggle with this now at times, but I wrestled for 11 months with this before I had my port placement. I felt like He was okay with keeping me in limbo with ER infusions/admissions for months on end. The stress was so high and really weighed on us. Even though He didn’t answer our prayers with healing, He answered with home care and that has been life changing.
She continues on to wrestle with a question I’m sure most of us have asked ourselves which is: how can a perfect God seemingly stay silent in times like this? Why isn’t He stepping in? She then explains that they found the problem with her colon and were taking her into surgery, then she gets a call from her surgeon explaining the miracle that took place, and all of her thoughts are flipped upside down.
I hung up the phone, stunned. And I suddenly thought of those days before the surgery when I was begging God to take away the pain. I had questioned God because of the pain. I had wondered how God could let me be in so much pain. And I had cried, because I thought God somehow didn’t care about my pain. But in the end, it was the pain that God used to save my life. The pain was what kept me in the hospital. The pain was what kept me demanding the doctors run more tests. The pain was what forced me to address what desperately needed to be attended to within my body. The pain was what made me allow a surgeon to cut my belly wide open. The pain was what helped save me. Had God taken away the pain, I would have gone home, my colon would have ruptured, my body would have turned septic, and I would have died. I now have a completely different picture of God standing beside my hospital bed while I was hurting and begging Him to help me. He wasn’t ignoring me. No, I believe it took every bit of holy restraint within Him to not step in and remove my pain. He loved me too much to do the very thing I was begging Him to do. He knew things I didn’t know. He saw a bigger picture I couldn’t see. His mercy was too great. His love was too deep. Indeed, He is a good, good Father.TerKeurst, Lysa. It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way (pp. 41-42). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
Q But in the end, it was the pain that God used to save my life. How does reading her experience make you think about your personal circumstance? Has enough time passed that you can now see what God was doing?
It makes me curious (and a little nervous about what all of this heartache is preparing me to endure) but I just can’t help but wonder. I can see bits and pieces of His purpose but definitely not in the same way Lysa was able to see His purpose for this specific pain she had. I think about the fact that if I wasn’t ill I probably wouldn’t be as close with the Lord and I probably wouldn’t have married Jared, and I certainly wouldn’t know any of you. There is definitely purpose found here in small ways and those are some.
Q Being completely honest with yourself are you more interested in the pain going away or being made more like Christ?
This is a very challenging question. My flesh and soul have two completely opposite answers. This is where we need to apply what we talked about last week in regards to asking Him to open our eyes to opportunities to be in communion with Him in our suffering. That change in focus will change everything.
Once the truth surfaced, the pain was so intense I couldn’t ignore it any longer. I had to do something about it. I needed God’s help. And God longs to help us. Stop right here, and personalize that statement. Say it out loud: “God longs to help me.” Now, keep this statement in the context of how God longs to help us. There are many things God longs to help us with, but at the core of it all, He longs to help us through the process of being made into the image of Christ. He is our ultimate example of wrestling well between divine faith and human feelings, so the more we become like Him, the more we learn to trust God, no matter what our human eyes can see.TerKeurst, Lysa. It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way (p. 42). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
Q What gets in the way of you believing that God longs to help you?
When I falsely perceive His silence. I am finding that in the “silence” that is when He wants me to draw closer to His heart and truly listen. I don’t typically listen nearly as carefully as I do when I need something. For instance (as embarrassing as it is to admit) I listen much closer to Jared when we are talking about my budget when I go to target than I do when he tells me about his day. I am working very hard to listen just as intently whatever we are talking about, but if I am doing this in small ways with my husband imagine how often this must happen with God?
Let’s read Hebrews 5:7-9
7 During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.
8 Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered
9 and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.
Jesus learned obedience through His suffering. He was fully God but also fully human. His divinity was complete but His humanity grew and matured and learned how to be obedient. It would take a lot of obedience to do life with humans who were so fickle, forgetful, disrespectful, untrusting, and unbending with their pride. It would take a lot of obedience to love people who spit on Him, mocked Him, and wronged Him in every way. It would take a lot of obedience to go to the cross for these people. For all people. For you and me. His humanity suffered.TerKeurst, Lysa. It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way (p. 43). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
His humanity said, please not this. His humanity cried for something different. His humanity begged for another way. But this obedience He learned from suffering compelled Him to trust God beyond what His physical eyes could see.TerKeurst, Lysa. It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way (p. 43). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
I never thought of obedience and suffering going hand in hand. Yet our obedience is seen in how we handle the suffering we have, and that obedience comes from choosing to trust. If our trust is just a feeling it won’t hold up, but when we choose to trust that is choosing obedience.
Obedience is the daily practice of trusting God. So, the only way to gain the kind of trust in God we must have to survive and thrive in this life between two gardens is through the things that we suffer. Suffering. The very thing that makes us wonder if God is cruel. The very thing that makes us question God’s goodness. The very thing I couldn’t understand in that hospital bed. The very thing I don’t want to be part of God’s plan ever, ever, ever. Not for me. Not for you. Not for any human. But here’s the craziest thing of all. God doesn’t want you or me to suffer. But He will allow it in doses to increase our trust. Our pain and suffering isn’t to hurt us. It’s to save us. To save us from a life where we are self-reliant, self-satisfied, self-absorbed, and set up for the greatest pain of all . . . separation from God.TerKeurst, Lysa. It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way (pp. 44-45). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
To trust God is to trust His timing. To trust God is to trust His way. God loves me too much to answer my prayers at any other time than the right time and in any other way than the right way. This doesn’t change the fact that I want all of this to go away. I want happy. I want normal. I want easy. I want to wake up tomorrow morning with my husband’s arms around me, as he assures me that it was all just a bad dream. That’s what I want. Because that’s all I can conceive as a good plan. However, God sees things I can’t see. He knows things I don’t know. Only God knows what the good plan is and what it will take to get me there. And most of all He knows, if I saw the full road ahead, I would stop about halfway through and never choose to continue with His plan. I would think the cost is too high, the path too scary, the way too daunting, and the enemy too frightening. No human is strong enough to withstand seeing too much of God’s plan in advance. It must be revealed daily. And we must be led to it and through it slowly.TerKeurst, Lysa. It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way (p. 45). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
Q How can we actively choose obedience and invite Him into our circumstances?
With His Word! I encourage you to challenge your wants with His Word. Here is an example of a chart you can use as an exercise! Download a blank chart here!
In Hebrews 2-3, we are reminded of why He came to earth to experience life in the flesh
2:18 Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.
3:1 Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest.
To fix our thoughts on Jesus is to close our eyes. To mark this moment by declaring our trust in God. To declare to God out loud like Jesus did, “Not my will but Yours be done.” To stop fixating on the circumstances raging around us. To stop trying to make sense of things that make no sense in the middle of the journey. And to stop asking for the knowledge that’s too heavy for us to carry. That’s why God didn’t want Adam and Eve to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The knowledge it would give them was a burden God never wanted them to carry. And maybe that’s why we don’t have all the answers about our situations. God isn’t trying to be distant or mysterious or hard to understand. He’s being merciful.TerKeurst, Lysa. It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way (pp. 48). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
Q What burdens have you picked up that you were probably never meant to carry?
I worry about provision when He says that He will be faithful to provide when we do what He asks of us. I carry other people’s opinions when He says that only His opinion matters. The anxiety of life even though He specifically asks me to cast those burdens on Him because I CANNOT carry them.
We don’t have to know the plan to trust there is a plan. We don’t have to feel good to trust there is good coming. We don’t have to see evidence of changes to trust that it won’t always be this hard. We just have to close our physical eyes and turn our thoughts to Jesus. Fix our thoughts on Him. Say His name over and over and over. God doesn’t want to be explained away. He wants to be invited in. And right now He’s looking for someone, anyone, who will really call on Him. In the midst of this cruel, crazy world, there you’ll be . . . the one who, out of all this world, is brave enough to trust and call on the name of Jesus. You’re learning disappointments aren’t a reason to run away. They are the reason to turn a different way. A way few ever find. Turn from the deep desire to know all the answers. To see too much of the plan. To carry a weight you weren’t ever supposed to carry. Make a different choice than Eve did.TerKeurst, Lysa. It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way (pp. 49). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
Just once more I want to read over a few sentences:
We don’t have to know the plan to trust there is a plan. We don’t have to feel good to trust there is good coming. We don’t have to see evidence of changes to trust that it won’t always be this hard. We just have to close our physical eyes and turn our thoughts to Jesus. Fix our thoughts on Him.
What is so important to note is that life is not going to just be easy once we give these burdens away, but we have to do the best we can with what we have given and choose to fix our eyes on Jesus. Everyday we get a new opportunity to choose to look at all we have rather than get fixated on what we don’t have.
Now I want to pause and take notice of something I didn’t until the third time reading through this. Adam and Eve were told not to eat from two different trees, not just one. I never noticed that. We only talk about the tree of the knowledge of good and evil but not the tree of life (Genesis 2:9). The reason God kicked them out of the garden was a very merciful reason. Once they ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil their eyes were opened. God spared them from a life of eternal separation by removing them, because if they had eaten from the tree of life next they would live forever and be separated from Him for all of eternity. Had they eaten from the tree of life next, there would be no death and no reunion with God.
Stay with me here, she goes on to discuss how Jesus died on a tree, He became the tree of life and paid the price so we would not have to be eternally separated.
All the while Jesus is saying, “Don’t deny My wounds, the healing I died to give you. Eve turned to the wrong tree and received death. I hung on a tree to bring you back to life. I am the fulfillment of your longing. I am your Tree of Life.” Charles Spurgeon once preached, “My dear friends, you will never see the tree of life aright unless you first look at the cross. . . . Thus then, Jesus Christ hanging on the cross is the tree of life in its wintertime.”2 In the darkest hour this world has ever known, Jesus died on a cross, on a tree, as Galatians 3:13 puts it in the New Living Translation. But just as we know that trees in the wintertime only appear to be dead, so there was a redemptive transformation at work as Jesus hung on the cross.TerKeurst, Lysa. It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way (pp. 49-50). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
Every time we start to longingly look at the tree of “insert whatever the enemy is tempting us to feel or desire or doubt” like Eve did, we need to remember the bigger picture, and the bigger picture is that He is merciful. Look away from that tree and you will see the tree of life that Jesus died on so when we screw up and choose the wrong tree we can be redeemed. We can choose Him! We can choose the tree of life and not repeat Eve’s mistake. And the greatest part of all is that during what we thought was death the greatest redemption ever was taking place. Those things that break us down can become our breakthrough.
Your life may be dark today. But make no mistake, there is a powerful work happening. Jesus is in the process of turning your hurt into wisdom. And this wisdom will be life! Jesus is saying to us, “Nothing you desire compares to this wisdom. I will turn your pain to peace. I will turn your heartbreak into honor. And it will be worth it.”TerKeurst, Lysa. It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way (p. 50). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
I don’t need answers. I need Jesus. I need His wisdom to be the loudest voice in my life right now. I need His truth washing over my wounds right now. I must stop the madness of my own assessments and assumptions. My soul was made for assurance. And that, my friend, is exactly what God gives us. Even when we don’t understand. Even when things don’t make sense. And especially when we are disappointed.TerKeurst, Lysa. It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way (p. 50). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
But when my brain begs me to doubt God—as it most certainly does—I find relief for my unbelief by laying down my human assessments and assumptions. I turn from the tree of knowledge and fix my gaze on the tree of life. I let my soul be cradled by God’s divine assurance. His Son. Who completely understands. And who will walk me through every step of this if I keep my focus on Him. That’s how I survive the 86,400 seconds called today.TerKeurst, Lysa. It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way (p. 51). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
He is the only way that we can survive living day by day. If you have never chosen Jesus or maybe you did, but have fallen away and want to choose Jesus again please reach out. I would LOVE to be able to be apart of you choosing Jesus or reach out to your pastor who I know would also love to talk with you further so we can CELEBRATE your choice!
Here are some thoughts as we finish out this chapter:
–God will eventually make everything okay
–The longer we avoid the feeling the more we delay our healing
–God doesn’t want to be explained away; He wants to be invited in
–Disappointments aren’t a reason to run away. They are the reason to turn a different way
–I find relief for my unbelief by laying down my human assessments and assumptionsTerKeurst, Lysa. It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way (p. 52). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
Prayer from Lysa:
Father, you are so very trusted. You can be trusted. Help me mark the hard moments of this day with declarations of my trust in You. There is more to what I’m facing today than what my physical eyes can see. When my pain feels too deep and when I don’t think I can take one more second of suffering, help me recognize Your plan and protection. Help me trade my unbelief for the beautiful relief that I don’t have to figure this out. I just have to fix my eyes on Jesus and how He will lead me. I mark this moment as a moment of trust. I declare I don’t have to understand. I just have to trust. In Jesus’ name, Amen