It's Not Supposed to Be This Way with author Lysa TerKeurst

New York Times bestselling author Lysa TerKeurst unveils her heart amid shattering circumstances and shows readers how to live assured when life doesn't turn out like they expected.

About the Book

What do you do when God’s timing seems questionable, His lack of intervention hurtful, and His promises doubtful?

Life often looks so very different than we hoped or expected. Some events may simply catch us off guard for a moment, but others shatter us completely. We feel disappointed and disillusioned, and we quietly start to wonder about the reality of God’s goodness.

Lysa TerKeurst understands this deeply. But she's also discovered that our disappointments can be the divine appointments our souls need to radically encounter God. In It's Not Supposed to Be This Way, Lysa invites us into her own journey of faith and, with grit, vulnerability, and honest humor, helps us to:

  • Stop being pulled into the anxiety of disappointment by discovering how to better process unmet expectations and other painful situations.

  • Train ourselves to recognize the three strategies of the enemy so we can stand strong and persevere through unsettling relationships and uncertain outcomes.

  • Discover the secret of being steadfast and not panicking when God actually does give us more than we can handle.

  • Shift our suspicion that God is cruel or unfair to the biblical assurance that God is protecting and preparing us.

  • Know how to encourage a friend and help her navigate hard realities with real help from God's truth.

Q&A with Lysa TerKeurst

Lysa TerKeurst

Lysa TerKeurst

Q. Why did you write It’s Not Supposed to be This Way?

LT: Life often looks so very different than we hoped or expected. We have this feeling that things should be better than they are. People should be better than they are. Circumstances should be better than they are. Finances should be better than they are. Relationships should be better than they are. Some events may simply catch us off guard for a moment, but others shatter us completely. And underneath it all, we’re disappointed. I deeply and personally understand that ache of disappointment. That's why I wrote It's Not Supposed to Be This Way. This is so much more than a book for me. If I could only give one life message, this would be it. I want to help others find the hope God has given me in the midst of the most heartbreaking season of my life. I want them to be able to find unexpected strength when disappointments leave them shattered. I want them to know how to wrestle well between faith and feelings when their life gets turned completely upside down.

Q: You say we have to wrestle between two perspectives: feelings and faith.

LT: I have honest feelings where I want to throw my hands up in utter frustration and yell about the unfairness of it all. To deny my feelings any voice is to rob me of being human. But to let my feelings be the only voice will rob my soul of healing perspectives with which God wants to comfort me and carry me forward.

My feelings and my faith will almost certainly come into conflict with each other. My feelings see rotten situations as absolutely unnecessary hurt that stinks. My soul sees it as fertilizer for a better future. Both these perspectives are real. And they yank me in different directions with never-ending wrestling. To wrestle well means acknowledging my feelings but moving forward, letting my faith lead the way.

Q: How do you define hope – especially when reality is extremely painful?

LT: 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. And, sometimes, that takes a while.

Q: What is the first step toward healing?

LT: 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 a 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.

. . .if you get desperate enough you’ll go all in with living slow for a while. You’ll quiet down all the outside noise so God’s voice can become the loudest voice in your life.
— Lysa TerKeurst, It's Not Supposed to Be This Way

Q: How do we get confused about God’s best for our lives?

LT: 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.

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.

Q: We’ve heard people say, “God won’t give you more than you can handle.” Is that in the Bible?

LT: No, that’s not actually in the Bible. And it’s simply not true. I know I’m not the only one who feels they’ve been given more than they can handle. I see the wide-eyed expressions on people all the time. The world is filled with people who are dealt more than they can handle. And, surprisingly, the Bible is also filled with people who were given more than they could handle.

God doesn’t expect us to handle this. He wants us to hand this over to Him. He doesn’t want us to rally more of our own strength. He wants us to rely solely on His strength. If we keep walking around, thinking that God won’t give us more than we can handle, we set ourselves up to be suspicious of God. We know we are facing things that are too much for us. We are bombarded with burdens. We are weighed down with wondering. And we are all trying to make sense of things that don’t make sense. Before we can move forward in a healthy way, we must first acknowledge the truth about our insufficiency.

God doesn’t expect us to handle this. He wants us to hand this over to Him.
— Lysa TerKeurst, It's Not Supposed to Be This Way

Lysa TerKeurst is president of Proverbs 31 Ministries and the New York Times bestselling author of It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way (Thomas Nelson). Connect with Lysa at

Our Reviewer’s Take

Gold Star Review

(Originally posted in our November 24, 2018 In Review section)

Lysa TerKeurst, the New York Times bestselling author of Uninvited, has yet again written a heartfelt recounting of shattering disappointments and painful circumstances while also framing them for readers from God’s perspective. It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way touches on the life-long question of the whys, matched with the innate desire to know all the answers and be in control. Challenging, engaging and insightful, the author’s easy and friendly style of writing will draw you in like close friends sharing their most intimate struggles. Additionally, the end-of-chapter reminders, Biblical references and reflections to ponder, make this book the perfect choice for individual use or small group study. More than a devotional or self-help book, readers will find personally relevant themes as well as encouragement to trust God in His promises, learn to let go and let Jesus “take the wheel” in their own lives. (THOMAS NELSON, Nov., 272 pp., $22.99)

Reviewer: Annie Sturt