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 6
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.)
As she starts this chapter she makes a statement that I feel like we can relate to very closely about how we don’t know what’s ahead.
When things stay hard for a long time, every day feels more like walking on a tightrope than on a solid and secure road into the future. I’m balancing on that tightrope. I’m no longer at the first cliff where the ground fell out from beneath me. But I’m also not all the way across to solid ground where everyone exhales, exhausted but relieved. No, I’m in the middle, which honestly might be the scariest of all places.Moving ahead and turning back are both equally terrifying. My feet are shaky. My ankles twitch like they are going to turn, and then I’ll surely fall off this tightrope I find myself on. Tears stream down my face as I try to find my balance. “God, I feel like I’m dying. Do You care? Are You there? How in the world can I reconcile the fact that You say You love me but then You leave me here? In this middle place.”TerKeurst, Lysa. It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way (p. 91-92). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
It felt like too much. It was too hard. These days, I’m not sure if I’m standing on a tightrope, just trying to make it to the other side, or walking a plank of death. Seriously. I’m not being dramatic. And neither are you. If you identify with any of this, you get it.TerKeurst, Lysa. It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way (p. 92). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
Q Do you find yourself feeling in the middle of a tightrope? Which direction do you find yourself looking to?
I ask this question because as we are in this middle, we only have four directions to look to:
- When we look forward, we tend to be hopeful that there is an end, but discouraged to see how far away it is to get there.
- When we look backward, we tend to become regretful of our decisions and wish we hadn’t taken a leap of faith. We might even consider what we would risk if we attempted to turn around.
- When we look downward, we tend to be overwhelmed in fear and anxiety and be tempted to just give up.
- When we look upward, we get the opportunity to take a breath, be FILLED with His strength, hope, love, and resilience, and we find that His faithfulness is greater than our fears.
If we look anywhere but up, we will lose focus of why we know He will get us to the other side. When we look up it’s important to remember that this does NOT make standing in the middle of the tightrope any easier. It does NOT invalidate how hard what you are going through is. It give us the strength to move forward in faith that He is still a good God.
She goes on to briefly address and validate the reason we as people tend to ask “why me?” and reminds us that we live in an imperfect world that is going to fall short of our expectations- remember we were meant to live in perfection and we are not in perfection anymore! Many of us find it impossibly hard to look at a situation that fell apart when the outcome of that situation, which was very realistic, didn’t go the way you planned. Yet we keep trying anyways. It may take us some time and may not be instant but we will try again.
Lysa goes on to say:
And that’s what it is like to be so very human- hurting but still hoping. Hoping doesn’t mean I put myself in harm’s way. It doesn’t mean I ignore reality. No, hoping means I acknowledge reality in the very same breath that I acknowledge God’s Sovereignty. And, I’ve learned one more important fact: my hope isn’t tied to my expectations finally being met in my way and in my timing. No. My hope isn’t tied to whether or not a circumstance or another person changes. My hope is tied to the unchanging promise of God. I hope for the good I know God will ultimately bring from this, whether the good turns out to match my desires or not.TerKeurst, Lysa. It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way (p. 92). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
Q What does the statement “My hope is tied to the unchanging promise of God” bring to mind?
For me it reminds me that my life changes and my circumstances are always changing but He is and always will be unchangeable. It gives me peace to know that my stupidity and disobedience isn’t greater than His sovereignty.
Regardless of whether your longsuffering is because of something big or small, remember pain is pain. It’s all relative in the scope of your own life. And God’s promises aren’t just for certain people at a certain low point. His hope extends into any and every size pit or pothole. Please don’t think if your situation isn’t catastrophic that you shouldn’t bring it to our discussion here. Sweet sister, pull up a chair and pull out your journaled heartbreaks, and I’ll do the same. My disappointment needs a promise fulfilled, and so does yours.TerKeurst, Lysa. It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way (p. 95). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
I know in past chapters we have talked about how we don’t want to contribute to the toxicity that comes from comparing our pain to others. No one wins. His promises are for the “hurricane” disappointments to the “thunderstorm” disappointments. Jesus cares about all of them!
Q What is one way you can tenderly care for someone during the pandemic?
I am working hard to check on my family, friends, and followers and rather than getting wrapped up in the fear we have of what would happen if I catch it, I am going to get myself wrapped up in how I cannot only stay safe but how I can help others stay safe and adjust to living at home full time.
It’s hard to remember what solid ground feels like when you’re shaking in the middle of the tightrope. I’m desperate to see a promise fulfilled right now. I want God to magically make a bridge appear around the tightrope, so I don’t have to walk so slowly and be so scared as I make my way to the other side of all this. 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. I’ve got to walk through the low places of the process before I’m perfectly equipped to live the promise.TerKeurst, Lysa. It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way (p. 95-96). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
I know this is probably not what you want to hear because I know that it’s not what I want to hear. Before we keep going I want to read psalm 40:1-4 (NIV):
1 I waited patiently for the Lord; He turned to me and heard my cry.
2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock, and gave me a firm place to stand.
3 He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in Him.
4 Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, who does not look to the proud, to those who turn aside to false gods.
Let’s continue on page 97:
God has to take me through the process of getting unstuck from what’s been holding me captive before I can take a stand. I also want that new song promised here. Did you notice, though, what comes before the psalm’s promise of a new song? It’s the many cries to the Lord for help. The most powerful praise songs don’t start don’t start out as beautiful melodies; rather, they start as guttural cries of pain. But soon the process of pain turns into the promise of a praise like no other. Keep walking the tightrope, Lysa. One foot in front of the other. Catch your breath when necessary, but don’t stop. Not today. Not tomorrow. Jesus is here, and He will not let you fall. Don’t miss this. We’ve talked about the process on the way to the promise. But we must not forget His presence in the midst of the process. The promise of a glorious hope to hang on to for the future. But it’s His presence in the process that will steady our hope for today. So, I look around for the evidence of His presence.TerKeurst, Lysa. It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way (p. 96-97). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
Q Regarding God’s presence, process, purpose, preparation,and promise, how does that help you with your own disappointments?
Honestly, I never really thought about how we need to prepare for His Promises. But we don’t appreciate things to the fullest until we know what life is like without them or we go through a season without the things we are accustomed to.
Q How can you look for evidence that His presence is with you right now?
I look outside and tend to see God’s presence somewhere (which is funny because outside of walks that are cool and breezy I HATE being truly outside), that’s why I love plants and spending time in the sunroom. I especially love planting seeds because it’s a physical way to see God’s hope.
I have a family member who recently shared with me that when they are struggling they like to shuffle their entire itunes library and see what song comes on and makes them feel like that song was hand picked by God for them in that moment. Most times it’s encouraging and other times it’s funny (for example they were in a bad mood and the grinch came on and was so hilarious.) Regardless of the philosophy there it helps them cope.
For Lysa it was a Bible study booklet on Job, and the irony of that is not lost on her. She says:
I feel like Job. The Lord was with him. But everything about his circumstances begged him to no longer be with the Lord. And here’s what I imagine would have been the hardest part about being Job: being completely uncertain of the outcome. We read the book of Job in the context of knowing the restoration that comes at the end. It helps us not feel the true intensity of Job’s pain. And while I know in my head that God will somehow, someday turn all this around for good in my life, too, my heart isn’t so sure some moments. The intensity of the pain gives me a propensity to doubt. God, give me relief from my unbelief!TerKeurst, Lysa. It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way (p. 98). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
The life and story of Job shows that God has a process, He is faithful, and He is present for those suffering. Lysa also hopes this book will be one of those things, and I hope this study will be one of them too.
She reminds us that:
God is in often overlooked places. We don’t have to find Him. God is not far from us. We just have to make the choice to see Him and rightly attribute to Him the good that does exist. I truly believe what keeps us on the path of longsuffering instead of veering off in the dangerous direction of wallowing is to wake up with great expectation of these little reminders of God’s goodness.TerKeurst, Lysa. It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way (pp. 99-100). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
And not only is His presence in the process, but there’s also a purpose in the process. Longsuffering is long because you can’t sprint through it. It’s one step. And then another that might be more treacherous than all the previous steps. Getting to that solid rock from Psalm 40 might require a bit of a hike. Sometimes God lifts us up in an instant, and other times He wants to join us on a bit of a journey—a process through which we can gain a little more strength and grit and lung capacity for what He sees we’ll need once we reach that rock at the top. There is a purpose to the process, and it’s called preparation. If God thought we could handle the promise today, He’d lift us up today. But if we aren’t standing on that firm rock, singing a glorious song, it’s because He loves us too much to lift us up there right now. This process isn’t a cruel way to keep you from the promise; it’s the exact preparation you’ll need to handle the promise.TerKeurst, Lysa. It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way (p. 101-102). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
Q She gives us multiple verses to reflect on, which one resonated with you the most?
For me it was Colossians 1:9-11 (NIV):
9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives,
10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God
11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience,
We not only need to bear good fruit but we need to get to know God. The more I learn about Him the stronger I am.
We end this chapter with this encouragement:
You are anchored to the hope of God that so few ever truly find. You, dear longsuffering soul, are a Job of your time. One who will be misjudged and misunderstood. The enemy will try to trip you and rip you to shreds with the hurtful hisses that all this longsuffering is for nothing. Don’t you dare listen…. Close your eyes and breathe. You’re brave and beautiful and handpicked. A decorated soldier in this horrible battle with a glorious ending.Oh, my longsuffering friend, hang on. Keep walking your tightrope, and I’ll keep walking mine. Keep looking for His presence in your process, and I will too. Together we will make it all the way across.TerKeurst, Lysa. It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way (p. 104). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
Here are somethings to remember as we close this chapter:
-When things stay hard for a long time, every day feels more like walking on a tightrope than on a solid and secure road into the future.
–My hope is tied to the unchanging promise of God.
-I know I must walk through God’s process before I see His fulfilled promise.
–God isn’t picking on me. God is picking me to personally live out one of His promises.
–I’ve got to walk through the low places of the process before I’m perfectly equipped to live the promise.
–Not only is His presence in the process, but there’s also a purpose in the process.
–The process isn’t a cruel way to keep you from the promise; it’s the exact preparation you’ll need to handle the promise.
–God is far more interested in your being prepared than in your being comfortable.TerKeurst, Lysa. It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way (p. 106). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
Prayer from Lysa:
Father, I confess there are days when it feels like You have forgotten me, maybe even abandoned me, because this battle has raged on for so long. And I confess there are times I get tired of hoping, weary from waiting, and I wonder just how much longer it will all go on. Thank You for reminding me that there is purpose to this process and that I’m not walking through any of this alone. You are my strength. You are my hope. You are my song. Help me fix my eyes once again on Your promises. And remind me to keep my hope tied to You and You alone. In Jesus’ name, amen.