It's Not Supposed to Be This Way Study Guide: Finding Unexpected Strength When Disappointments Leave You Shattered

It's Not Supposed to Be This Way Study Guide: Finding Unexpected Strength When Disappointments Leave You Shattered

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

LysaTerKeurst unveils her heart amid shattering circumstances and shows readers how to live assured when life doesn't turn out like they expected.

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 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.

In this six-session video Bible study, Lysa offers a safe place to share your disappointments, fresh biblical insight to get you through painful situations, and life-giving perspectives for living in between Eden and eternity.

Sessions include:

  1. The Birthplace of Disappointment

  2. Living Between Two Gardens

  3. Problems Placed On Us and Problems Within Us

  4. The Four Steps of Restoration

  5. When the Enemy Comes Against Us

  6. Kingdom Minded, Eternally Focused

Designed for use with It’s Not Supposed t o Be This Way Video Study(9780310094364), sold separately.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780310094340
Publisher: Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
Publication date: 11/20/2018
Edition description: Study Guid
Pages: 176
Sales rank: 13,020
Product dimensions: 7.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Lysa TerKeurst is president of Proverbs 31 Ministries and the #1 New York Times bestselling author of It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way and Uninvited. She writes from her gray farm table and lives with her family in North Carolina. Connect with her at or on social media @LysaTerKeurst.

Read an Excerpt



What would happen in our lives if we really live in the absolute assurance of God's love in the midst of our disappointments?

Welcome! (2 minutes)

Welcome to Session 1 of It's Not Supposed to Be This Way. If this is your first time together as a group, take a moment to introduce yourselves to one another before watching the video. Then let's get started!

Opening Discussion (10 minutes)

Answer the following questions to prepare for realty Wd in this week's video teaching:

• How would you define disappointment?

• What was one sentence that resonated with you from the introduction or chapters 1-2 assurance of the book?


The Birthplace of Disappointment disappointments? (2 8 minutes)


Play the video segment for the Introduction, and then play the segment for Session 1.

Instruct your group to use the outline below to follow along or take additional notes on anything that stands out.


v. 7: Then the Lord God formed a man

v. 9: ... trees that were pleasing to the eye

GENESIS 2:15–18

v. 16: And the LORD God commanded the man, "You are free ..."

v. 18: "... I will make a helper suitable for him."

GENESIS 2:23–25

v. 25: Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.


"You must not" (Genesis 3:1) versus "You are free" (Genesis 2:16)

When God says "Do not = Do not hurt yourself" (Levi Lusko)

Eve assumed that she knew what a good God would do.

Created things cannot give what only the Creator can give.

You steer where you stare.

God could have been angry, but instead He asked two questions:

• "Where are you?"

• "Who told you that you were naked?"

Sin demands a sacrifice (Genesis 3:21).

In Genesis 3:22-23 (NIV), banished can be translated as "sent" in Hebrew (shalach).

Look at your disappointments through the lens of the great love of God. It will change how you see everything.


(45 minutes)


1. What part of the teaching had the most impact on you? Take turns sharing with the group.

2. Lysa explained that the reason we face so many disappointments in life is that we are living between two gardens. There's a garden in Genesis 2–3 at the beginning of the Bible and a garden in Revelation 21-22 at the end of the Bible. Our hearts were created in the perfection of the garden of Eden, but we don't live there.

Open your Bible to Genesis 2:8–25 and let's read aloud, changing readers every few verses.

What were the wonderful features of this garden? List as many as you can.

3. What do these beautiful details reveal about God and His nature? List and discuss.

4. Why was the provision of water (v. 10) important? What does it reveal about God?

5. How would you describe the relationship between Adam and the woman (Eve) depicted in verses 18–25?

6. Sometimes we're trying to hold people accountable to a level of perfection in our relationships that's not realistic. Not that we permit or excuse behaviors in the abuse category, but what about those expectations we have of someone else who just isn't spiritually, emotionally, or relationally at the place where those expectations are realistic? How could understanding this help you in a current relationship that feels disappointing at times?

7. Is there a realistic option that could encourage growth in the relationship?

8. What clarifying revelation do you have after reading this insight on the word helper?

9. Before sin entered the world, Adam and Eve had a close relationship with God and each other. Communication didn't feel complicated. Work was a pleasure, and Adam didn't have to toil among thorns and thistles in order to feed his family. Eve never felt the sting of comparison and struggles that seem to never end. Neither of them knew the bitter taste of sin or shame. How does this bring context to some of the situations in your life that make you say, "It's not supposed to be this way"?

10. Open your Bible to Genesis 3:1–9 and let's read aloud, changing readers every few verses, noticing the slippery slope of compromise.

11. Lysa highlighted the difference between "You must not" in Genesis 3:1 versus "You are free" in Genesis 2:16. When looking at God's protective commands, do you tend to view God as a "You must not" God or as a "You are free" God? How does that affect the way you relate to Him?

12. Eve assumed that even if they touched the fruit they would die. She added to God's rule which created assumptions. Sometimes we assume we know what God should do in circumstances as well. Give an example of a way you've done that before.

13. Remember, God wasn't removing Adam and Eve from the garden out of anger. He was actually protecting them. This was an act of mercy, not cruelty. If Adam and Eve had eaten from the tree of life, they would have lived forever in sin and would have been eternally separated from God. Write down how this example of His mercy, protection, and love could be playing out in your situation. Share your responses with the group.


Processing a Disappointment (25 minutes)

If your group meets for two hours, include this activity as part of your meeting. Allow 20 minutes total — 5 minutes for the individual activity and 20 minutes for the group discussion.

Individual Activity (5 minutes)

Complete this activity on your own.

1. How would the way you walk through hard situations change if you processed all of your disappointments through the filter of knowing God is good and full of love and mercy?

2. Choose one word to describe this new perspective.

3. What area of your life would be most impacted by this new filtered perspective?

Group Discussion (20 minutes)

1. What is the most difficult aspect of processing life through the filter of God being good and full of mercy? What does this perspective require of us?

2. We know God asked Adam in the garden, "Where are you?" This is a profound question. Remember, Adam's physical location was not a mystery to God, but God was trying to call Adam out of hiding. The safest place to be exposed is in front of God Himself. One way for us to look at this in the context of our everyday lives would be: Where are you going or to what are you turning when you feel exposed or vulnerable? (For example: When you wake up in the morning, are you getting refreshed by God's Word or refreshing your feed on social media?)

3. Before the fall, it was common for Adam and Eve to walk with God in the garden. Picture them like little children hearing God's footsteps in the garden and running toward Him as if their Father had just walked in the door. But now that sin has entered in, they hear the Father's footsteps and are afraid. Sin always hinders our relationship with God. How does this play out in your life?


(5 minutes)

1. Briefly review the video outline and any notes you took.

2. In the space below, write down the most significant thing you learned in this session — from the teaching, activities, or discussions.

Personal Prayer

(8 minutes)

Write a personal prayer here that reflects the area of this week's teaching you feel most in need of prayer.


(2 minutes)


Father God, it's hard to long for a perfection that will never exist on this side of eternity apart from our relationship with You. Disappointments are hard to navigate. So we offer to You our genuine feelings. You already know what they are better than we do. Thank You for loving us and standing with us in the mess of our disappointments. And we ask that You help us manage our feelings using Your truth, perspective, and holy discernment. We entrust this process of learning and growing to You. Give us the courage to make the changes we need to make and the grace to love others in their imperfections as well. In Jesus' name, amen.

Between-Sessions Personal Studies


Every session in the It's Not Supposed to Be This Way Study Guide includes five days of personal study to help you make meaningful connections between your life and what you're learning each week. In this first week, you'll work with the material in the introduction and chapters 1 and 2 of the book It's Not Supposed to Be This Way. You'll also have time to read chapters 3 and 4 of the book in preparation for your next group meeting.




Oftentimes we have a lot of feelings swirling around our disappointments, but we never process them. Let's do that now. We're not doing this to dwell on our disappointments, but rather to get to a better place as we process them.

1. There are various kinds of disappointment, from the annoyance of a friend canceling plans at the last minute to the devastating death of a loved one. Imagine a scale from 1 (minor) to 10 (major). What would you rate as a 10 on the scale of disappointments? What are some 8s and 9s? What are some 2s and 3s? Write down some examples below the continuum.

2. How do you typically respond to a level 3 or 4 disappointment?

3. Have you ever suffered a level 8, 9, or 10 disappointment? If so, how did you respond to that initially? How has it affected you over time? How do you deal with it now?

4. Read aloud the above quotation by Viktor Frankl. How does this encourage you that your disappointments big or small are worth bringing before the Lord and being processed by truth?

5. Today you're going to reflect on the introduction of the book It's Not Supposed to Be This Way. If you haven't already read the introduction, please do so now.

The introduction begins by raising our awareness of how deeply most of us long for a life that feels "normal":

6. What are a few words that define the "good normal" you long for?

7. Pick a circumstance in your life that isn't what you thought it would be. What would your version of normal be around this circumstance?

8. How have you tried to control the situation so it will turn out the way you think it should?

9. What would be your biggest challenge if your version of normal isn't the way things turn out?

10. Read the following verses from Romans, and then write a statement of release to God so you can have a marked moment where you entrust to God the outcome for this situation.

26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.

27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God's people in accordance with the will of God. (Romans 8:26–27)

Also read how Eugene Peterson phrases Romans 8:26–27 in The Message paraphrase:

26 Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God's Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don't know how or what to pray, it doesn't matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. 27 He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That's why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.

Now write your statement of release:

We motivate ourselves to get through the bad of today by playing a mental movie of the good that will surely come tomorrow. And if not tomorrow, soon. Very soon.

And this good that comes will be such a glorious outcome that we will exhale all the anxiety and finally say, "Whew, I can honestly say it was worth it." Cue the redemption song and a small ticker tape parade.

The good outcome will look like we dreamed. It will come as fast as we hoped it would. And it will make all the wrongs right, right, right.

It's Not Supposed to Be This Way, pages xii–xiii

But if you are a human who has been doing the adult thing for more than twenty-four hours, you've probably come to the same stunning revelation as I have. We cannot control our outcomes. We cannot formulate how the promises of God will actually take shape. And we will never be able to demand any of the healing from all the hurt to hurry up.

It's Not Supposed to Be This Way, page xiii

11. Sometimes God's promises are big instantaneous answers to prayer. Other times, they're progressive. We need to recognize the process of the promises. Name some evidence in your life right now that God's good promises are in process. If this is hard to see, list some things for which you're grateful.

12. Now, build on this. But in order to do so, you have to be actively looking for God's interaction and intervention in your life. Over the next twenty-four hours, challenge yourself to recognize evidence of God's faithfulness seven times and note each instance below. The more we look for God's faithfulness, the more we'll start to see it in a current situation that's hard.

13. Open your Bible and read 1 Corinthians 15:55–58. What do you think it would look like to live victorious even in the midst of the hard situation you are currently facing?

14. What does it mean to you to be victorious regardless of how your circumstances turn out?

15. How does the promise that you will be victorious-better than okay — encourage you?


Today you're going to reflect on chapter 1 of the book It's Not Supposed to Be This Way. If you haven't already read chapter 1, please do so now.

1. In what ways do you try to capture or project an image of perfection? How does the lie that perfection is possible show up in what you do?

2. How has the search for perfection disappointed you?

3. Have you ever looked at someone else's image of perfection posted online only to find out that their reality didn't match up with that perfection? For example, you've always admired how that friend's house looks on Instagram, but if you were to go over to her house, it isn't as it appears online. Or you look at someone else's marriage and hold it up as perfect, but then she confides in you how much they're really struggling. How do these misunderstandings and assumptions of other people's perfection taint your own life?

4. How do you think the enemy uses these pictures of perfection to compound our disappointment?

At Bible study next week, be prepared to share with the group some of the "less shiny" parts of your life that people might assume about you. These kinds of honest conversations will help everyone keep their own imperfections and disappointments in perspective.

5. "If the enemy can isolate us, he can influence us." How does this play out in your life?

6. To wrestle well means to acknowledge our feelings but move forward, letting our faith lead the way. What are some feelings that need to be balanced with the biblical truth you've learned this week?

7 What might moving forward in the midst of those feelings look like? How can you let your faith lead the way?

8. Read Psalm 88 in your Bible. It's a psalm of lament, a psalm of wrestling. Are you surprised that it doesn't end with everything resolved? How does this comfort you?


Today you're going to reflect on chapter 2 of the book It's Not Supposed to Be This Way. If you haven't already read chapter 2, please do so now.

1. How does this revelation speak to you right now?

Read Genesis 3:1–7 again:

1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?"

2 The woman said to the serpent, "We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, 'You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.'"

4 "You will not certainly die," the serpent said to the woman. 5 "For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."

6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.


Excerpted from "It's Not Supposed To Be This Way"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Lysa TerKeurst.
Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

How to Use This Guide, 7,
Session 1: The Birthplace of Disappointment, 11,
Session 2: Living Between Two Gardens, 43,
Session 3: Problems Placed on Us and Problems Within Us, 69,
Session 4: The Four Steps of Restoration, 97,
Session 5: When the Enemy Comes Against Us, 123,
Session 6: Kingdom Minded, Eternally Focused, 151,
Endnotes, 170,
Scripture Index, 171,
About the Author, 172,

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