Originally this post was supposed to be a review of Lysa Terkeurst’s, book, “It’s Not Supposed to be This Way.” But, instead of giving you a quick overview and star rating, I thought it would be much more powerful for you to see how I was able to apply the wisdom from her book to my real life situation.
This past weekend, I was reminded (not that I really needed it) of just how amazing my sister-in-law Tera was and how much I miss her. The Lord called her father, Richard, home a couple of weeks ago and his memorial service was on Saturday. I went along with my parents, my brother, and my niece and nephew.
I knew going into the service that many emotions were going to be stirred up, but I still don’t think I was fully prepared. During the four eulogies I listened to kind and loving words from family members and was reminded how close Tera and her dad, Richard, were. I thought of how devastating it must have been for Richard to have to say goodbye to “his” Tera as it was lovingly said throughout the memorial.
Words shared at the beginning of the service spoke about how Tera and Richard made a pact when they were both ill that they were going to fight together and both of them were going to be healed. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. The Lord called Tera home in early February and Richard home a mere five months later. The Pastor comforted those in attendance by saying, “By going before him, Tera prepared a place for her dad.”
I have no doubt that was the case, because that was who she was. She loved taking care of people. She was the first text message on my birthday, she was the one who always knew my favorite treat, and she was the one who truly wanted to know how I was, even when she was so sick. Listening to stories of her father reminded me not only how amazing he was, but how amazing she was. One of my favorite comments during the memorial was how Richard found more joy celebrating others success than his own. I feel that Tera emulated that same quality. I truly believe that, sometimes it’s not the ones in the spotlight who are shining the brightest it's the people in the shadows cheering them on and supporting them.
Sometimes during the mourning process, I find that it’s easier to bury all of the good memories, because it honestly just makes it too hard. It’s too hard to go back to the wonderful times and miss them so much that you’re not sure you’ll ever move on. Since Tera has passed I haven’t been able to go back and even read through her text messages - let along reflect of the all the good times. When I do let go and let the mourning seep in, so do all the unanswered questions.
Why did this have to happen? Why did Tera have to get so sick and leave us so early? Why did my brother have to bury his wife? Why will my niece and nephew live the rest of their lives without their mother? Why did she have to miss so many of their big moments? Graduation, marriage, children, and so on.
Why did Tera’s family not only have to lose her, but their grandpa, dad, and husband? In the natural none of this makes sense. A friend once asked me, how I can still have faith and still believe in God when all of these terrible things keep happening. My simple answer to her was that is what faith is all about. It’s about believing in something that you don’t always understand and that you can’t always see.
There’s a saying, “God doesn’t give us more than we can handle.” But, you know what? That’s just not true. There’s been times in my life when I was kneeling in prayer begging the Lord to take all of my burdens, because I couldn’t handle it. I didn’t understand it then, but as I mature in my faith and after reading Lysa’s book, I’m starting to. What I’ve come to understand is that God does give us more than we can handle and that’s the time when He wants us to lean into Him even more. To find comfort and peace in Him. He is the Prince of Peace and only He will be able to give us that gift. Lysa says it this way, “God doesn’t expect us to handle this. He wants us to hand this over to Him,” (page 124).
One question that I have personally wrestled with is, “if God can control everything, why do bad things happen?” Well, Lysa says it beautifully, “God isn’t causing this pain and suffering -- He’s allowing it,” (page 145.). Looking at life, especially the hard times through that perspective helps me understand that this isn’t God doing something to me or my family, but ultimately he’s allowing it for something greater than all of us will ever know here on this earth.
He’s taking these valley’s in our life and just as the Bible says he will ultimately use them all for His good. And we know that God works all things together for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28.
Lysa uses her words to further clarify this for us, “And then He takes our burden and uses it as light. In the end, not only will our suffering produce perseverance - endurance for our race - but it will bring forth hope. Glorious, glorious hope for all,” (page 144). Hope and light. Two words that epitomizes our Lord and He wants to use us, while we’re here on earth. He has chosen us to be a light. He trusts us. What an awesome responsibility.
But, one question I’m left with is, am I strong enough to be that light? Are you? The enemy wants us to give into our flesh and throw a pity party. He wants to keep us from looking up and keeping our eyes on Jesus. He doesn’t want us to have great faith. He doesn’t want us to use our hardships and disappointments for good, but I encourage all of you (myself included), do not let the enemy win. Be the light in the darkness.
I was paging through Lysa’s book and I have so much underlined and highlighted that I think everyone who is walking through a hard situation, or walking beside someone should not walk, but run out to get this book. It’s a book filled with truth. It’s a person who took all of her pain and suffering and used it to be a light for the world. It’s brave. It’s inspiring.
But, in case you’re unable to go and get the book, I did want to leave you with the following nuggets, because I’m certain they will bless you, or give you the words to bless someone else who desperately needs them.
“Tears are the truest connection we have with others, and trust is the truest connect we have with God,” (page 223).
“These disappointments we all go through are actually divine appointments to see God do a new thing,” (page 203).
“If our souls never ached with disappointments and disillusionments, we’d never fully admit and submit to our need for God,” (page 77).
Blessings to you and your family,