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Surviving Our Seasons of Suffering

January 25, 2019

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 (ESV)

Have you ever walked through difficult circumstances that felt unending? The kind that require you to be longsuffering?

Longsuffering isn’t a word I want to be part of my story. It means having or showing patience despite troubles. And I don’t particularly want troubles to begin with … let alone for any extended period of time.

Thankfully, today’s passage of Scripture offers us encouragement for when we’re not sure we can endure our season of suffering for one more second.

In Jeremiah 29, the children of Israel get news from the prophet Jeremiah that they are going to be held in captivity by Babylon for 70 years. Think about how long 70 years is. If we had to go to prison today for 70 years, for most of us, that would mean we’d probably die in captivity. Seventy years feels impossibly long, incredibly unfair and horribly hard. It would seem like a lifetime hardship without a lifeline of hope.

But here’s what God told the people of Israel: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place” (Jeremiah 29:10).

This is the scene and the setting where we then get these familiar and glorious promises I love to cling to:

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you …” (Jeremiah 29:11‒14).

God is assuring His people that His thoughts and intentions toward them are fixed and established. His plans are for their “welfare” (šālôm), not for hurt. His sure and steady promise is one of restoration.

But He also reminds them of what they must do as they await the fulfillment of His promise. They need to call on Him. They need to intentionally and wholeheartedly seek Him.

When we seek God, we see God. We don’t see His physical form, but we see Him at work and can start to see more of what He sees. Trust grows. If our hearts are willing to trust Him, He will entrust to us more of His perspective.

If we want to see Him in our circumstances and see His perspective, we must seek Him, His ways and His Word. That’s where we find His good plans and promises for hope and a future.

If we find ourselves in an incredibly disappointing place — a place we don’t want to be — it’s easy to start feeling that some of God’s good plans don’t apply to us. We can even lapse into the mentality that we somehow slipped through the cracks of God’s good plans.

But the truth is, God is closer than we often realize. He sees things we don’t see, and He knows things we don’t know. He has a perspective from where He is that allows Him to see all things — the past, the present and the future — from the day we are conceived to the day we breathe our last breath, and even beyond that into eternity. He declares He is our rescuer. He is the One who will sustain us. And He is more than able to bring His plans to pass. (Isaiah 46:3-11)

All of these things were true for the Israelites. And they’re true for us.

For the Israelites, the news that they would be in captivity for 70 years was absolute reality. But the truth that God had a good plan and a purpose not to harm them but to give them a future and a hope — that promise was very much in process all the while they were in captivity.

This is how we, too, can trust God in the midst of our longsuffering journeys: by having a higher perspective in our present realities.

Let’s cry out to Him in the midst of our suffering. Let’s earnestly seek Him and ask Him to help us look at our circumstances through the lens of His love instead of a lens of disillusionment and disappointment. We are not forgotten or forsaken. And our longsuffering won’t seem nearly as long or nearly as painful when we know God’s perspective is to use every single second of our suffering for good.

Father God, thank You for reminding me I can trust You in the waiting. I know I can entrust every season of my life into Your hands. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.


Have you been looking at life through the lens of disappointment or the lens of God’s love? How can you let the truth of God’s goodness shift your perspective this week?

If this post resonated with you, my new book, It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way would be a great resource to help you process your disappointments with a friend who understands. Click HERE to get your copy.

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14 Comments
  1. Alvin J. Yoder

    This was a very helpful message. Thank you for listening to the Spirit of God in your writing.

    Reply
  2. Dawn Wilson

    This is so meaningful to me in this moment, Lysa. In just a couple of hours, I’ll head to the doctor to hear the results of my blood tests, bone scans and bone marrow test. I don’t think the diagnosis will be promising, but I’m trusting the One who has promised to sustain me. It is well with my soul, even if not my body; but I am so grateful for the articles that have dropped into my email the past few days—ropes of hope from people like you, but I believe directly from the Lord too in His good providence. I believe even our suffering is a gift when it draws us closer to Him. Thank you for being resolute in your life and ministry to live out what you teach as a “frail” but faithful child of God. Your words are yet another word of hope that bring comfort and before-the-bad-news peace. Love to you.

    Reply
  3. Bill Arnett

    Ms Terkeurst,

    Just finished reading your book, “It’s not supposed to be this way”!! Oustanding! It supported my thinking as we, my wife & I , go thru our valley..I am a southern gospel fan & one of the songs that echos your book. It’s sung by the Dove Brothers & is called the Meaning of Faith. Thanks again for your wonderful book.

    Reply
  4. Lisa

    Oh Lysa, how this message touched me today. I am also in chapter six in your book It’s not Suppose to be this Way. It has been 20 long years I have prayed for my alcoholic husband. I thought I was almost to the other side in early November when he agreed to go to detox. He didn’t drink for 6 glorious weeks but has picked the bottle back up. Yesterday I spent the day depressed and lonely. This chapter came at just the appointed time,but isn’t that just like our Father? Thank you,thank you,thank you! I am so happy that you are on the other side now and God has restored your marriage ! I know His plans for me are good and I’ll worship and praise Him in the waiting!
    Much love, Lisa

    Reply
  5. Yessica

    Mrs. Lysa, this has been so uplifting for me as I’ve been married 7 years & every year has been filled w/ numerous medical appointments, dozens of specialists, hundreds of new medications to try, & 3 a.m. ER visits due to my husband’s chronic complex health issues. Just took him to the ER again on the 21st & I felt utterly discouraged that “it’s happening again” I’ve been listening to your messages on pain & I KNOW the Lord knows exactly what we need as it uplifted my head. Thank you for being a willing vessel, GOD is speaking through you to me in places I need it most as a young wife. We love & appreciate you.

    Reply
  6. E.

    Dear Mrs. Lysa,

    Hi. Today, I saw your video and I really surprised that you’ve been through so many sufferings and trial. Since, I’ve heard you have 5 kids…I thought you never been really faced in trials. I just thought “happy Christian”…because I’ve been single and never married. But you are not…even since your childhood. I know comparing someone’s life means nothing. But I just surprised and I really thank God that I’m healthy and my family are heathy too and my parents never divorced and they are still alive!! These days, I’m so depressed cause I’m single, being tired to being single. But your video or this blog messages given me hope and I really appreciated your this blog!! Thank you so much!! God bless and please keep this missionary. I’m praying for you as well.

    Reply
  7. Phyllis

    Hello Lysa my name is Phyllis Potalivo. I live in Canada. I’m totally blind with a fantastic computer with speech program I am currently doing your on lien bible study on it’s not supposed to be this way and I love the videos coming to my e-mail I’ve been trying to find the place to comment for this week’s lesson and it’s been so frustrating a lot of face book pages and web sites aren’t easy to navigate because there are images and the speech program doesn’t read the text however, in this post, at the end you mentioned the book it’s not supposed to be this way and the computer read me where I can put a comment I know I’m not in the right place to put comments for it’s not supposed to be this way, but I was so frustrated I couldn’t find the place to put my comment and I’m just so happy I found a place where to put comments, so I hope it’s okay that I comment here on it’s not supposed to be this way but I wanted to comment on this week’s lesson. I can relate to your fear of going to bed. I’m afraid to go to sleep I’m always having upsetting dreams and dreams that don’t make sense and I know it’s because of anxiety I’m always dwelling on hurts, now my sister and I are on bad terms even though I’ve apologized and apologized for saying too much her last words were I’ve disrespected her family well, I don’t know how I did that but this is all I think about my family holds grudges against me when I say hurtful things I don’t mean I’m praying for confort but this is what I wanted to say that I can relate to your feat I went on your face book page, some face book pages are easy for me to navigate I’m able to find out where to read people’s comments and write my own comment but the face book pages are getting harder to navigate I love fellowshipping with others and I’m glad I found this blog post and I sure would love to hear from you and fellowship with others thank you fro listening and I love doing online bible studies and I love my computer! when it’s cooperating! God is good! I thank him for great teknology every day!

    Reply
  8. Ann O'Malley

    Thank you for sharing so honestly. You’ve been through a lot, and God is using that in powerful ways through your ministry.

    I’ve been reading from Jeremiah recently, too. One of the lessons that I’m learning is that God didn’t totally abandon His people while they were in exile. There was the very real suffering of being captive in a foreign land, but He also promised them little daily pleasures and blessings during those 70 long years.

    Not too long ago, I prayed like this: “We need to talk, God. I really need You to understand something. Life is tough and I’m getting kind of tired of it. I’m feeling burnt out on this whole learning-by-suffering issue. I need some relief. I need time off from this constant emotional stress, this school where suffering is the only teacher.”

    A few days later, He surprised me by answering my prayer in unexpected ways. It wasn’t the great big, long-lasting time off from suffering that I’d hoped and prayed for. (No early return from exile.) But it was a reassurance that He hears me, He understands me, and He answers my prayers, whatever land I’m living in at the moment.

    (Adapted from my blog at https://thosewhoweep.blogspot.com/2018/08/study-break_24.html.)

    Reply
  9. Sara Butler Shoop

    I have found myself in a season of desolation and am feeling led to call this darkness out into light. I came looking for a safe place to do this as Facebook did not seem appropriate for the nature of what is to be shared. And then I found this post. Thank you, in advance, for your willingness to speak light into the dark.
    Yesterday morning I was able to experience my son’s joy in a new way. As I went to wake him up for school he scootched around and I tickled his sides which drew a big smile on his face. I realized his reality- he wakes up each day with genuine joy to start his day. What a blessing to be a witness to this each day! As I was driving later in the morning, I thought back to the difference in his joy and how I feel. Tears welled in my eyes and began streaming down my face as my own reality came forward. I feel empty. Hollow. Of no sustenance. And I’ve been feeling this way for a few months. But I hadn’t been able to name it. Maybe it was my depression. Maybe it was just being a busy full time working mom to two small kids while being a wife and going to school to get my masters. No more guessing. I began really evaluating this feeling because even though it was real, my feeling joy at waking my son up this morning was just as real. My laughter at my daughter being silly last night warmed my heart. I love my family, I enjoy my family, I have great friends and am blessed in many more ways than I deserve. But as I allowed the reality of this feeling to unfold, I was struck with an unnerving realization. This is how people feel when they decide to end their life. Empty. Hollow. Feeling as if attempts to really live are futile because at the end of the day you continue to feel empty and hollow, all the while still being able to connect, laugh, and love those around you, including Jesus. I’m writing this because someone needs to hear this. I don’t know who. I don’t know why, exactly. But they do.

    Later this same morning, I ran into an old friend from high school. He gave me a hug and as I walked away I allowed myself to really focus on how his hug felt. It was strong, firm, protective, full of genuine joy at seeing me. My second realization hit me. This is when people turn to affairs. When you are feeling empty, hollow, and dull, a touch that lifts you for a moment can become intoxicating and the possibility of feeling it again could sustain you through feeling empty. But for how long.

    These realizations were unnerving. I’ve never considered ending my life and if you had asked two days ago if I would ever have an affair, both responses would have been a firm, confident “No”. Period. All of the sudden though, I understood why people would turn to these options.

    Thankful for who God created me to be, I continued to reflect on where the emptiness was coming from and what would fill me up. Ending my life would not alleviate the emptiness, only end it. Having an affair would not be the answer because the emptiness can not be filled by a lover, my husband, my kids or my friends. My emptiness is of a spiritual nature. I’m depleted of the most natural resource and necessary element to thrive in life. Jesus.

    Marital struggles, work conflicts, parenting young children, homework near daily and being a support to others has drained me with little time to fill up with God’s word being spoken with fellow believers, let alone praying in fellowship with others.

    I am speaking to those feeling empty. Friend, I understand. Forgive me for not understanding before, but I do now. Please hear me when I tell you, nothing and no one is going to fill that emptiness except Jesus.

    Now I’m speaking to those who have friends that are feeling empty. You’re not going to know your friend is feeling empty. Those closest to me are only now aware because I’ve told them last night and today. They had no idea. You have no idea. It’s okay. It’s not your fault. Yes, I’m a busy mom, but even if you surprised me with a coffee date or bringing dinner over, I’ve been functioning through the emptiness to keep life moving so much that it would be appreciated, but it would not touch on the emptiness. Here’s what you can do: Ask God to show you who is empty. Ask God to show you who needs prayed over with your hands on them. Be willing to be uncomfortable and go to who he calls you to go pray over. And then, just be with that person. Quiet, loving, and present. And if a friend tells you they are feeling empty, be willing to sit with them through it and tell them you are. There is great healing power in hearing a friend say “I’m not sure what to do, but I’m not going to leave you to walk through this alone.”. Offer to brush her hair while she’s snuggled in a blanket. Let her come rest on your couch while you sit beside her. Love on her as you would a child coming to you needing to feel Christ love.

    I’ve talked with my therapist and we have a plan. I’m reaching out to a friend for weekly fellowship, calling my dr., sharing my experience with others and lamenting to God.

    Lord, I come to you with an empty soul needing filled. Jesus, I know you have not forsaken me and I know you are here waiting for me to call out to you in my hollowness. Lord I need you. Every moment. There’s hurt to be healed and I know that means a time for me to be still while you bind up my wounds. But it’s hard. And I’m scared. Lord i don’t want to get stuck in feeling empty. I want to be filled with your spirit, for the darkness to be light, for the truth to be felt in every fiber of my being. Lord I pray that this message reaches exactly who you want and need it to reach. I pray they seek you and you alone to fill the emptiness. Thank you for never leaving or forsaking us. I make this journey with you to seek you, feel you, and love you. In your holy name, Amen.

    Reply
  10. Cindy Morgan

    When I first just even accidentally looked at your most recent blog & saw the word “lomgsuffering” I knew that it was God ordained that I read this blog today. My husband was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease this past July & it is a very “long suffering” disease. My husband has been healed from cancer twice by God—Praise His Name—but there is no cure for PD & it will, most likely, only get worse until God takes him Home. To see him suffer with this day after day has just about ripped my guts out & the stress from all that is involved with what is going on with him is just almost unbearable & yet I know that God taught me through my husband’s bouts with cancer that He wastes nothing & that He will ultimately use even PD for our good & His honor but oh the “ day aafter day after day” of all this sometimes gets to me. We are learning the hard way that we only get strength for one day at a time.

    Reply
  11. Jess

    I read this a few weeks ago. It was posted on my daughter’s 22nd birthday. This is significant in that she has not spoken to me or allowed me to see my granddaughter in almost a year and a half. It has been a very difficult time. During this time I God has led me into some great places. He has provided me with a job that allows me to bring hope to struggling college students at a Christian university. He has provided a groups of family and friends who love and support me. He also brought me to “It’s Not Supposed to be this Way” and the online Bible study. Something I had dismissed a number of times, but He kept bringing it to my attention. During the study my husband and I also joined a couple study and Biblical counseling class at church. We had a revival and did typicall devotionals. Through all of these things God sent the same messages, over and over. The same scriptures were used in essentially every study. EVERY STUDY!! I know that God has brought a great deal of joy in the midst of this trial. I am thankful for this devotional and the other studies that have amplified the work that He is doing. It is hard to explain having such joy in the middle of such a mess. I would be lying if I said I had not carried around this pain. While it still pulls at my heart I laid it at His feet and will continue forward in prayers of love and thanks. I pray that God blesses you and this ministry.

    Reply
  12. Karla

    It’s my hope and prayer that Lysa will see this message, because I want you to know how intimately encouraging your book and this post is to me. I have to tell you that you, your book (of course along with the Almighty! and His Word and truth) saved what felt like my life and certainly my marriage. When I found out my husband, who I believed to be a strong godly man and my best friend, had had an affair, I can’t even describe the hurt I experienced. I was – and still am in many ways – devastated. I want you to know that because our experience sounds very much like yours (I’m grateful for a man with a repentant heart who is allowing God to work in his life like never before), I have read the words in your book over and over . . . and they are beginning to sink in. THANK YOU for partnering with the Holy Spirit to put into print your heart, your pain, and HIS truths. Words cannot express how much of an impact they made in my life, in our lives. My husband is so grateful that I am committed to forgiving him and giving us a chance at a second marriage, a new life together. I, too, still cry that it happened and grieve over what we lost. But “my hope is tied to the unchanging promise of God.”
    I sincerely hope that I have the opportunity to meet you and give you a hug on this side of heaven. If not, I’ll definitely will on the other side . . . wishing you much shalom and love . . .

    Reply
  13. Sharon Huisingh

    Lysa,
    I just finished It’s Not Supposed to be This Way and by now I feel we are friends who enjoyed some coffee and lots of tears. Your words were confirmation of the same words Holy Spirit has whispered to me as I have unpacked the blindsidings of my life. Like David, some have come due to choices and some are just living in broken.
    I am a grieving mother. I lost my boy to a journey that I never dreamed for him or me. I lost myself somewhere in that journey, too, but God did not lose me or my husband or my son or daugthers. He pursued each of us in the ways we had stepped out of the safety he had for us. When I faced my fears and anger and allowed His truth and love to rewash me it opened the door to restoration that was beautiful. He went ahead and healed in His way because He knew He would be catching my son and taking him to his truest home so soon. I am so thankful for how God goes in front of us and I am so thankful He doesn’t tell us why. God and I have talked at length about broken pictures, pieces that are dust and so take longer to get put back together. We have talked about how He is clear in stating in Psalm 50 that thankfulness is a sacrifice in that He knows it would be hard at times but He would honor us as we crawl into His lap and say, “Thank you for being in front of me providing for restoration, thank you for being in the middle and speaking to me in the lonliness of never hugging my sons neck again and the moments I wasn’t sure I could move from my chair to face my day and thank you for taking my past because I wasn’t always who I wished I was and there are too many wounds back there for me to carry any more.” When I go to my true Father’s lap I feel His presence wrapped around me, I feel ushered under His wings and as the tears fall hard and long, I feel so seen and loved. I feel that I am desperate to let women know that love before they have to endure the pain I have. I am certain there is a way to walk with women that can share some of the love I have been shown so they can live loved instead of wounded and their story can be protected from some of this pain.
    I have had the pleasure of walking with amazing women throughout my life and God has brought more in this season. I have been compelled to share and they have sweetly listened and we are learning together. Vulnerability is so rewarding and so exhausting at the same time. I don’t know you but I am incredibly proud of you for writing and making your writing public in the middle of your battle. It is one thing to be on the other side and share the learning but a very different picture to be in the middle. Thank you for your sacrifice of thanksgiving. Thank you for your obedience. God has been whispering the same truths in my ear and your book is such confirmation for me that He is truth. Our pain may be different and we have never met but His comfort is the same.

    Reply
  14. Ginny Roberts

    Hello Lisa

    My husband Mel and I returned yesterday from the trip to Israel that you plan on taking with your group soon. It was wonderful, and our tour guide Steve is one of the guides your group is using. He is wonderful! He told me he is excited to be guiding your group.

    If you’d like more info or insider tips, feel free to call me at 520 400 7066.

    Blessings and travel mercies for you and the group.

    Reply
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