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Where Is My Happily Ever After?

December 10, 2018

“The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.” Psalm 145:18 (NIV)

It’s hard when a situation doesn’t look anything like we thought it would.

Especially if you’re like me, and you like a plan. I like all involved to follow along with the plan. And I certainly don’t want any unexpected deviations from or disappointments with the plan at all, ever.

In reality, though, life is highly unpredictable. I keep bumping up against this as I walk through a long season of life not looking like I thought it would.

I suspect many of you are also facing circumstances that have left you feeling caught off-guard and unsure about what tomorrow holds.

Maybe you’re in a job where you feel unsettled, and you think that God is leading you somewhere else, but He hasn’t yet revealed what’s next. So, for now, you walk into an office every day giving it your all, but your heart feels disconnected and your real calling unfulfilled.

Or maybe you’ve been watching everyone else in your life find love, walk down the aisle, and start the life you’ve dreamed of. Then a few months ago you met someone who was everything you’ve been hoping for. You told your friends this might be the one. And then this week you felt that person pulling back. It’s hard to understand. You feel panicked. But the more you press in, the more distance you feel between the two of you.

There are thousands of scenarios that evoke these feelings of uncertainty, fear and exhaustion from life not being like you thought it would be.

Whatever your situation is, you probably feel like you can’t change it, but you still have to live through the realities of what’s happening right now. Sometimes you just have to walk in your “I don’t know.”

The Lord makes it clear in His Word that things will not always go as we wish they would in this life:

“In this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33b, NIV).

“Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34b, NIV).

All this trouble is exhausting. Walking in the “I don’t know” is scary. And sometimes we can be desperate to make things easier than they really are.

We keep thinking, if we can just get through this circumstance, then life will settle down and finally the words happily ever after will scroll across the glorious scene of us skipping happily into the sunset.

But what if life settling down and all your disappointments going away would be the worst thing that could happen to you?

What if your “I don’t know” is helping you, not hurting you?

Remember those verses we just read about troubles? Here they are again in the context of the full passages:

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33, NIV).

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:33-34, NIV).

The crucial detail for us to have peace in the middle of everything we face is to stay close to the Lord.
We think we want comfort in the I-don’t-know times of life. But comfort isn’t a solution to seek; rather, it’s a by-product we’ll reap when we stay close to the Lord.

I wish I could promise you that everything’s going to turn out like you’re hoping it will. I can’t, of course. But what I can promise you is this: The assurance of Psalm 145:18 is true, “The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.”

Let’s cry out to God, declaring that this hard time will be a holy time, a close-to-God time. And let’s choose to believe that there is good happening, even in these places. Because wherever God is, good is being worked.

Father God, I’m forever grateful for Your presence and all that You offer me as I rest in You. More than I need You to fix anything in my life, I need You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Do you ever struggle with knowing how to encourage a friend walking through difficult circumstances? Discover how to help her navigate hard realities with real help from God’s truth with my newest book, It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way. You can order your copy here today.

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  1. Nico Smith

    Right now, my “happily-ever-after” seems so very far away. I just had major neuro surgery over the summer, which I’m still recovering from.:☹ This had been a summer that started out with fun adventures, and I ended up getting very sick sometime during the middle of July.
    I <3 how my awesome boyfriend stuck by my side through my crazy ordeal. 😊 He knew something was wrong, and he stuck by my side, giving me the courage, I needed to be actually got the right help I needed by finding the right neurosurgeon who was actually willing to listen to my descriptions of the “shunt malfunction”, though they were backwards.
    “How is it that your shunt lasted thirty years, from when you had the revision done?” my neurosurgeon inquired, once my mom and I had explained where the original surgery had taken place when I was 4.
    He was baffled when we actually explained the chain of events to him.
    Now, I’m on the way back to being myself, thanks be to God. Unfortunately, I can’t say this has been a speedy recovery, as the pain hasn’t been so distant. Unfortunately, weather changes don’t help how my body decides to behave these days.
    I struggle with knowing how to be brave in my own struggles at times; however, I get so much encouragement from my incredible boyfriend, Sean Keffer. Throughout the summer woes, he’s always been there for me—especially when we were told that I may have cancer, which was later determined it was actually my shunt having gone bad. Ultimately, God got us through this trying time, and we’re not done with recovery yet.

    • PJ

      Wow Nicco! All praise, honor and glory to God for the incredible testimony He is giving you. I’m glad you are doing better. I love the phrase our late Pator started a few years ago, “Gods got this!” So incredibly true. I’m happy to hear He has you, too. Prayers for a continued recovery and healing in His precious name. God Bless you.

  2. TAMMY

    Hi Lysa,

    I am reading your book, It’s not suppose to be this way, and I relate to all of

    Mu husband had an affair the summer of 2017, our 25th anniversary, we were empty
    nesters! I do not know how to get beyond this. We have been in counseling
    since the beginning. I am on so many medications just to get through a day and
    sometimes that doesn’t even work. We did everything together. We worked out
    together, cooked together, took walks, visited our daughters. I had no idea
    something was going on. NOTHING I know it sounds like probably many other
    couples. But when we talk at counseling she says how great it is how we are
    doing so much together…We always have. He says he was in a stage in his life
    that he didn’t like his job, he was a teacher at a behavioral school. Didn’t
    know if he was going to have a job at the end of the school year. He had 2
    shoulder surgeries in 2 years, and apparently I found out that I wasn’t giving
    him enough sex.

    It was with a fellow teacher. One I never heard anything good about. He states
    he wasn’t looking for anything. She started giving him attention and she was
    younger so it made him feel good about himself. I never pushed him away about
    school or shoulder surgeries. I was always there to talk about it and listened
    when he was down. He ended up having to tell me because I was home when she
    texted him stating she needed to talk. He lied at first saying he was only
    there to help her with her windows not sealing tight, and then admitted to
    kissing her and then I received at text from her soon to be ex husband telling
    me that there was more and he had proof. He had her garage door opening so no
    one would see his car when he was over. I went to look in his car and there was
    no opening, I found ED pills instead. I confronted him and he admitted it was
    true. He tells me there were never any feelings towards her, it was just sex.
    My life ended right there! My best friend, the person that I could tell
    anything to, betrayed me. He quit that job and got another job back to where he
    started in law enforcement. Blocked her social media sites and phone number.
    She is not a nice person and has told everyone at that school what happened.
    Threatened my daughter to post more pictures of the two of them,there is only a
    school picture of him and her and another teacher, even tho he swears there
    aren’t any.

    Yes its been 15 months and it hurts like it was yesterday. I feel it, I see it,
    I think about it at one point in time every single day. I am broken beyond
    repair. I love him and can’t see myself without him, but I feel that if I just
    didn’t see him, I wouldn’t hurt so bad. I didn’t leave him, I didn’t kick him
    out. I actually threw myself at him and tried so hard to give him anything he
    wanted. I so regret that. I want him to have to work for me. I pray and have
    started going to church regularly to have HIM help me with this burdened. But I
    feel that since it has been this long that I am not going to get the help I
    need. I don’t want to give up, but I feel that is my only option left. I want
    to be happy again. I don’t smile often, I don’t listen or watch anything happy,
    I don’t decorate for christmas anymore..I feel no joy! Why should I?

    I know you are going to tell me not to give up that HE will come along
    unexpectedly and take my hand and bring me to HIM. I just don’t know how much
    longer I can wait for that to happen. I have so many bad days, so many tirggers
    that set me off and when that happens it takes me days to just stop crying.

    How did you do it? I need your advice

    • Lysa TerKeurst

      Hi friend!

      Thank you so much for sending us this note… you can send Lysa an email here:
      [email protected]

      – Mary Scott, LT Ministry Team

  3. Tess

    Dear Precious Lysa.
    I had the sheer blessing of hearing you speak on Focus on the Family. I do not know when it was aired, but today, it was aired for me. Our story is very different in circumstances, yet very like in hurt and disappointment. Almost 14 months ago our 31 year old, only son, was killed in the line of duty, leaving behind a wife and three girls under 6. We received “the phone call” at 2:30 in the morning and had a 4 hour drive to get to the hospital. We live in GA, he lived and worked in SC. We had to make the decision to turn his machines off. At 1425 Tuesday afternoon, he went home to be with Jesus. The only words I can remember saying was “Thou will be done”. Over and over and over again. Those are pretty much the only “prayer” words I have been able to pray. I have not been able to read or write things until just recently. You received a Purple Heart to help keep you focused. I have a Metal of
    Honor near my bed. I struggle to pray because I thought I had prayed for protection and, well, he is completely protected now. I want to be there for others. I do. I have purpose, but I don’t know what it is or when I will be doing it. Until then, I encourage every Officer I see with a hug and small gift. I feel I have lost all my influence in my Church. I use to teach Sunday School and Children’s Church. I also helped the Women’s Ministry, as we are a very young old Church. I do none of those things. I just cannot.
    Today I heard you share your story and I could not stop listening. There was Hope in your story. I immediately went out to purchase your book, but it was sold out (and the lady told me they have had it in stock 3 times and every time, within two days, they are out again!) So I purchased from Amazon!! I tell you this because I want you to know you are appreciated and we NEED to hear what God has taught you. You said something about disappointment can open us up to temptation if we are not careful. I know God has a plan for me, but I have shut Him out with television. I have been struggling with memories and to make them stop, I turn the tv on. It is such a stealer of Truth, time and moving forward, but I’m alone most of the time and the struggle is exhausting. I will do well for a time, then shrink back into “entertainment” to escape.
    I’m looking forward to working through your book, workbook and DVD, first alone, then with the women at church, if they will have me.
    I barely touched the surface, but I wanted you to know GOD USED YOU TODAY and I’m thankful to Him for that.

    • Candy

      Dear Tess, I’m so sorry for your loss. I lost my 23 yr. old Granddaughter 5 yrs. ago and didn’t think I would get through it but with Gods strength in me I did finally come to peace with it. The Gaither Vocal Band sang a new song that year called (I’ll pray for you). I also fell into a deep depression. This song and Gods promise in Romans8;26-27 gave me the hope I needed to carry on. I will be praying for you and your family. God Bless.

  4. Cathy Caldwell

    Oh, how you are speaking to me. My husband has spent the entire 2018 battling stage 4 colon cancer…..16 rounds of chemo and the lymph nodes are still hanging onto the cancer. We have three sons 19, 15, 13. To say we are beat down, doesn’t even begin to capture how beaten down we feel. If I can be very honest, I LOVE GOD and BELIEVE IN GOD but I don’t have the energy to pray.

    We moved to our current town two years ago but we have no friends or family because we immediately had to take care of an elderly parent and we both have to work. Several neighbors know my husband’s cancer battle but nobody ever asks how we are doing. They wave but never wants to converse. It baffles me. This is the least community we’ve ever had and we need it more than ever now.

    Please pray for us.

    • Kay

      I was just reading your comment and wanted you to know that I’m praying for your husband, for you, and the rest of your family. I’m so sorry that you are finding yourself so isolated from community in such a hard and difficult time. I can’t imagine how exhausted and beat down you both must be feeling. Please know you have my prayers..

  5. The Kaye Post

    I want to thank you for sharing such beautiful words of how our “I don’t knows” can be blessings. I’m currently going through the struggle of starting my own faith based blog, finding a new job, and potentially transferring schools. I feel as though I am surrounded by “I don’t knows” currently and it can be very worrisome as it doesn’t go according to my plan.

    You explained beautifully a new perspective of using this time to be closer to God and trust in his timing and plan. I tend to forget that sometimes and He led me to this post that I clearly needed. Again, thank you so much for sharing your talent of spreading love and perspective through a friendly voice.

  6. The Kaye Post

    I want to first thank you for sharing such beautiful words relating to the feeling of being surrounded by “I don’t knows.” It is an incredibly overwhelming feeling sometimes and I am currently working through such “I don’t knows.” Recently, I have been working on my own faith based blog, attempting to leave a toxic job, and potentially transferring schools to pursue my dreams. So currently I am surround by heaps of uncertainty, but this post alone has given me new perspective.

    Your incredible talent of helping other gain perspective through your friendly voice is a true, and much needed, gift in this world. God is loving and He doesn’t want us to feel lost, but sometimes He uses that lost feeling to bring us closer to Him. From this post, I am reminded of God’s many ways of getting our attention and causing us to slow down just to be with Him. Thank you again for using your gift to reach people like myself and remind us that peace and comfort come from something much greater.

    With love.

  7. Marie

    Lysa, Thank you for your transparency. I read your latest book a month or so ago, shortly after it came out. I devoured it because it was the rawest, most real, most transparent writing I had ever read. No prescription, no formula, no 12 step program, no facade, no pretend, just this is how life is, this is how I feel, but I KNOW God’s truth, HIS word, HIS character and I will believe. I have recommended your new book to everyone that shares their struggles, their disappointments, and those that I know struggle with reality versus expectations, which is everyone frankly. Thank you for sharing so deeply and allowing so many to see the glory of the Lord through your life. Thank you. To God be the glory!

  8. Ann O'Malley

    One thing that’s helped me in those “I don’t know” times was advice given by an oncologist when a close friend was diagnosed with stage IV cancer: Be realistic but hopeful. I have this tendency to go to extremes. Being realistic to the point of seeing no hope. Or being hopeful to the point of forgetting that in real life bad things can happen.

    This philosophy helped me a lot, but I had to ask whether it’s biblical. The two passages that you cited from John 16 and Matthew 6 assure me that it is. Jesus was realistic—we cannot escape the troubles of this world. They’re guaranteed. You will have trouble. And hopeful—He has overcome the world. Nothing can beat that. (Adapted from my blog at

    Thank you, Lysa, for being both realistic and hopeful in your writing.

  9. Sarah Judson

    Dearest Lysa,

    You are a most blessed, and gorgeous woman of God. My heart aches with you as I sincerely know the story you are walking.

    Ten years ago this coming Valentine’s Day, my husband of nearly ten years and beloved father of three, abandoned us for another family. It nearly killed us. I completely relate to your sentiment of having “licked the floor of hell”. I saw no red flags leading up to this point and genuinely believed that our marriage was “that marriage”. You know, the one EVERY woman prays for . . .

    We came to Christ together in 2001 and were baptized by our dear Pastor of The Harvest in SC. We had the privilege of serving the Lord over seas with our church for short term missions, led small groups for our church, served in Divorce Care with the children who were the innocent bystanders of such hurricanes.

    I. Never. Saw. It. Coming.

    I share a glimpse of my story with you not to further break your heart nor feed the fear that every man is deep down truly capable of acting on such devastating decisions.

    I share it with you to infuse HOPE, PEACE, COMFORT, and JOY.

    In my situation, God ultimately released my children and I from trying to locate him and force a reconciliation of marriage upon him as I once believed was the objective. Instead, God allowed me to walk with Him on the adventure of a lifetime that has lead my children and I to a faithful father and husband.

    I personally felt that I wanted to dedicate five years of my life to draw deeper into my relationship with my LORD and my children after my divorce and did so. I then came to Him in hopes of signing up for another five year term of being solely HIS. HE had another plan.

    By God’s grace and redemption, I once again have my “happily ever after”. We are now happily married going on three years. This alone is a miracle as it has been quite interesting blending a family of five children and two deeply wounded adults.

    Nineteen months ago, God has blessed us with a sweet, darling princess that never would have come to be had we not walked this painful road. She is worth every second of every trial we have endured and is the cherry on top of our family sundae.

    In addition, God allowed me to become a Director of a faith based Crisis Pregnancy Center. I have come to realize my passion and calling and am now privileged to make a difference in the lives of men and women suffering as a result of abortion as well as being a vessel to save the lives of other unborn children. I do not believe I would have been positioned to do so had I not walked this road.

    God is faithful and uses ALL things for HIS good and HIS glory! He will see you through this and you will walk through this fire without smelling like smoke.

    A song I leave with you to listen to is “If you want me to” by Ginny Owens

    In His Love,

  10. Beth

    Thank you so much for sharing part of your personal, private and most painful journey and even writing when your world was collapsing. I know some about the devastation and the difficulty of that journey as I’ve had similar circumstances in my life and marriage (19 years) in the past few years. I am still healing but God has been with me and is working on me and for me through it all. Sharing even that isn’t something I do easily. I can’t imagine the stress of the public eye with your career and life’s work in ministry. Please know that your sacrifice has been a blessing and inspiration to help others like me to continue to trust in God’s unfailing love and hope in His healing.

    We are still and will always be working on our marriage and could use some advice if you have any insight you can share. Do you have suggestions on ways to narrow down and find a very experienced, knowledgeable, gifted counselor? (We are tough patients who need the best.) Do you think the intense weekend sessions are worth the expense compared to weekly sessions? We have had several local counselors but it has been difficult to find marital counseling nearly as helpful as books that I’ve read which have been many, a couple of yours included. 🙂

    Because of your faithfulness, may God continue to heal, bless, strengthen, renew, and use you and Art. May the Lord bless your life together, the latter part more than the former, and restore you and give you twice as much as before. (Job 42) Because that’s the kind of God He is!

  11. Stephanie

    Lysa, i’m currently reading your book “it’s not supposed to be this way”, and it has changed so much for me. Thank you for your words and your heart. I feel like every word you say is hitting the mark of my pain and sorrow. Thank you for sharing your experience in order that those of us who have similar experiences might understand hope and long-suffering for what it’s doing to us in the process in order that we might come to the other side with a beautiful story. Thank you for meeting us where we are at and offering encouragement. I’m so very grateful. ❤️

  12. Ruth

    Wonderful article!!

    I am looking for a book/Bible study to do with a young woman (18) who has several issues due to sexual abuse at 10 and abandonment of her mother.
    Her father loves her deeply but doesn’t know how to handle the issues.

    Any suggestions?

  13. Melissa Lopez

    Sometimes life just does not turn out the way we planned. We know God is faithful and He is good. We read the Scripture and know the promises, but it is still hard, and as you said it can be exhausting. Thanks for the reminder of choosing to believe in His goodness.

  14. Megan

    This is a beautiful article. I recently just touched on this topic and related it to the story of Joseph, his trials and how God was working in them for a divine purpose.
    I also wrote praise song based on Proverbs 3:5

    Bless the Lord!

  15. christi smith

    I have a friend recently diagnosed with a severe case of melanoma. Treatment plans and surgeries are being scheduled. I myself just finished It’s Not Supposed To Be This Way. I am going to share it with her. I LOVE the verses at the end and the dialogue between Jesus and God. It has benefited me and I hope it helps her

    Christi Smith

  16. Maisee

    Lysa, I just wanted to say that you are truly a Gift from God. I just finished reading your book “It’s not supposed to be this way” and it has opened my heart and eyes to see God in such a bigger view than I ever did before. I’m battling anxiety and I feel like I’m stuck in a hole. I’m not myself anymore and I don’t want to live in this darkness anymore that I seek out for God and when I saw your book and read it entirely, it has given me such a deeper meaning to our Heavenly Father. Your story is so touching and it has inspired me so much to have more hope and faith to keep moving on and don’t give up. Your book has also brought me into tears because of how raw and real every word you said was! I want to be healed too and for that in your book you’ve said that God is not ignoring us, he’s restoring us, which makes me feel that at the end of this nightmare, I know I will be transformed into a different person but better than I ever was before. Thank you for writing such a meaningful and powderful book for all those who are suffering and need to be healed and especially to seek out for God!! <3 XOXO

  17. Grace

    Preach! This what exactly what I needed to hear! Praise God for softening my heart and opening my ears!

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