Lysa TerKeurst: How Disappointment Taught Her to Trust God

Her new book It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way offers a raw look into TerKeurst’s struggles with cancer, infidelity and trusting God in the darkest times.

- Posted on Nov 8, 2018

Lysa TerKeurst

Lysa TerKeurst, the president of Proverbs 31 Ministries, is a well-known author and speaker. Her last book, Uninvited, became a #1 New York Times bestseller. However, while her career reached new heights, her personal world was coming apart. She was diagnosed with breast cancer and discovered her husband had been unfaithful.

Her new book It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way offers a raw look into TerKeurst’s struggles with cancer, infidelity and trusting God in the darkest times.

In this excerpt, TerKeurst shares how she found God in the midst of her hardest disappointment.


I grabbed my chest while tears slipped down my cheeks in an unending stream. The pain in my heart wasn’t physical. But the stabbing emotional hurt was so intense I could hardly breathe. My hands were shaking. My eyes were wide with fear. My mouth felt paralyzed.

My life had gone from feeling full and whole to being obliterated beyond recognition.

I’d been hurt plenty of times in my life. But nothing like this.

After twenty-five years of marriage partnership, I had no choice but to tell my husband, “I love you. And I can forgive you. But I cannot share you.”

Never had I felt more shattered and alone. 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.

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.

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.

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.

There isn’t any timing that seems like the right timing to be shattered into dust.

There isn’t any plan God could present where I would willingly agree to be broken into unglueable pieces.

I just wouldn’t.

And what a tragedy that would be. My controlling things would prevent the dust required for God to make the new He desperately desires for me. And isn’t that what all His promises hinge on? Old becoming new. Dead things coming to life. Good from evil. Darkness turning to light.

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?

Taken from It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way: Finding Unexpected Strength When Disappointments Leave You Shattered by Lysa TerKeurst Copyright © 2018 by Lysa TerKeurst Used by permission of Thomas Nelson.

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