What to Do When Life Doesn’t Turn Out As Expected

My friend, Margaret Feinberg, has been in a gruesome fight with breast cancer. Though she has been thrown on one of the toughest battlefields of life, her response has been startling and challenging to me.

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You may be on a battlefield of your own, and you may be at your wit’s end, a weary warrior — trampled and discouraged. So, I asked Margaret to share a piece of her story with you to encourage and inspire you to keep on trusting. If you want to go deeper, check out her new book and Bible study, Fight Back With Joy, filmed with LifeWay. I have no doubt my wise and inspiring friend will give you the Biblical truth and companionship you need to fight any battle you face with tenacity and joy! 


My fingers brushed up against the mass. I thought it was my imagination at first. It turned out to be my worst nightmare.

Tests soon revealed I had breast cancer.

Every breast cancer is different. Some require a lumpectomy and/or radiation. Others are more severe. My course of treatment involved more than a year of chemotherapy, radiation, and many surgeries.

The gruesome details still bring me to tears.

My life hasn’t turned out like I expected. Maybe yours hasn’t either.

Maybe you believed “I do” meant forever. Until life took an unsuspecting turn.

You picked out the name for the baby who never took its first breath.

Perhaps there’s an empty seat, an empty bedroom, an empty bed of the one who is never coming back.

The future can start to feel flimsy. Our wills become wobbly. Our confidence becomes rickety.

Sometimes the future can look bleak, even completely black.

That’s when God whispers the promise:

“I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who summons you by name.” (Isaiah 45:3)

Whenever life doesn’t turn out like we expect, our illusions shatter. The niceties we tell ourselves burst. The false myths we believe are exposed.

This is a painful, horrendous process.

Yet the gift of darkness is that it forces us to squint for God.

And, that’s when we find Him. The Ultimate Treasure. The Holy Beautiful One.

This journey has been the most painful experience of my life. And, to share about it requires some vulnerability. Okay, a lot of vulnerability. And, that’s really, really hard. But I feel like I’m finally ready to share what God has stirred in my heart along the way because although cancer has been the most painful journey — it has also been the most joyful. And, no one is more surprised than I am.

Fight Back With Joy is the most vulnerable book and Bible study I’ve ever written, and maybe it’s because I originally started it to be a very different book.

Two years before I was diagnosed, I became obsessed with the more than 400 references of joy in Scripture and, just before my diagnosis, I started the finishing touches on a book on joy. Then, I got the phone call that changed my life forever.

What to Do When Life Doesn’t Turn Out As Expected.
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I had to scrap the entire project because I couldn’t imagine how I could possibly talk about something as fluffy as joy in the midst of the darkness I felt. Up until that time, I had been searching for joy in the relatively good times of life. But, after cancer, I started to read those scriptures so differently.

I discovered facets of joy that no one ever taught me… more than whimsy, joy is a weapon we can use to fight life’s battles.

The thing is, no one signs up for that discovery project — finding joy in suffering. No one. But I’ve never felt so surefooted on my path to a joyful life. I know now that without shadows, joy can feel shallow. But, when we can discover joy while in the fight of our lives — no matter what that is — it is lasting.

Everyone who has faced a challenge, or who knows someone in the midst, needs to know that suffering doesn’t win.

Joy wins.

My prayer is that this book and Bible study will be beacon for anyone searching for HOW to fight darkness.

My prayer is that this book and Bible study will be a beacon for anyone ABOUT to face a battle.

My prayer is that this book and Bible study will be a beacon for anyone IN the fight of their lives.

My prayer is that this book and Bible study will be a beacon for anyone who has crawled THROUGH the trenches.

And the joy that can only be found with Him.

Today, if your future feels flimsy, know that you are not alone. Even in this you can fight back with joy.

I stand beside you. With you. Committed to peer into the darkness until we discover the treasures God has for us.

To preview the Fight Back With Joy 6-Session DVD Bible Study by Margaret Feinberg, click here.

Margaret Feinberg is a popular Bible teacher at churches and leading conferences such as Catalyst, Thrive, and Women of Joy. Her newest book and Bible study, Fight Back With Joy released January 6th. Order you copy today.

Be someone who rises above endless demands and become more winsome, cheerful, and thankful through Margaret’s new book and Bible study, Fight Back With Joy: Regret Less. Celebrate More. Stare Down Your Greatest Fears. Click here to purchase your copy.

Question: How would you use joy as a weapon when you fight life’s battles?

Go deeper into this week's question in my Bible Study Bistro Facebook group. There's a community of 4:13ers waiting for you!