When We’re Stuck In a Mess

by Lysa TerKeurst August 20, 2020
“Then the LORD said to me, ‘You have made your way around this hill country long enough; now turn north.’” Deuteronomy 2:2-3 (NIV)
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We all have messes in our lives. Financial messes. Relationship messes. Health messes. Home messes. Business messes.

Messes that leave us feeling stuck. Like we may be stranded in this place of upheaval and unrest forever.

I’m sure that’s how the people of Israel felt as they were wandering through the desert. Stuck in a mess with no end in sight.

You’ve probably read or heard this story found in the book of Exodus. God had miraculously set the Israelites free from the oppression and bondage of slavery in Egypt. But their unwillingness to fully trust Him and their blatant refusal to take possession of the Promised Land left them in quite a mess. A 40-year, desert-wandering mess.

Thankfully, in the book of Deuteronomy, we discover their story isn’t over. Change is coming. The children of the Israelites, originally released from Pharaoh’s tyranny, are finally about to take possession of the land God said was theirs all along.

But before they move forward, Moses has everyone pause to look back. He knows he won’t be going with them, so he wants to be sure to cement in their minds the faithfulness of God along their journey.

Moses reminds them of a time when they’d been stuck circling the same mountain for too long. God spoke into their wandering and let them know it was time to head in a new direction.

“Then the LORD said to me, ‘You have made your way around this hill country long enough; now turn north’” (Deuteronomy 2:2-3).

It was a pivotal moment for them to remember. One where they had faced a life-changing choice. They could stay stuck, endlessly circling the same old place, or they could choose hope and head in a new direction with the Lord.

They could turn north.

I think this is the perfect time to pause and ask God if there’s anywhere we need to “turn north” in our lives. Have we been circling the same messes for years and years, with no end in sight? Are there areas we know we need to change — but feel like it will require too much sacrifice?

Here’s a question we can ask ourselves right in the midst of our messes …

Am I letting this mess define me or refine me?

The answer to this question is crucial.

If I let a mess define me, I will feel hopeless.

If I let a mess refine me, I will be hopeful.

If the Israelites had looked at their 40-year track record of aimless wandering and defined themselves as rebellious failures, they would have lost all hope and kept right on circling.

But because they embraced the correction and redirection of the Lord, they were able to turn around and move toward His promises with hope firmly planted in their hearts.

It’s time for our messes to stop defining us.

It’s time to embrace the refining process and turn north.

So how do we begin to turn north? We replace our old thoughts with empowering truths from God’s Word.

I call them “Go-To Scripts.” In other words, these statements can become our new patterns of thought. And these new patterns of thought will empower us for a new way of living. I’m sharing a list of some of my favorite “Go-To Scripts” with you today in our Reflect and Respond section because I don’t believe for one second that we have to stay stuck in our current messes.

May we hear the Father’s voice, filled with grace and free from any hint of condemnation, declaring over us today, “It’s time to turn north, beloved.” And may we be found turning toward Him and moving forward with Him.

Dear Lord, thank You for offering me hope. I’m choosing to believe today that I don’t have to stay stuck in my messes, even if they are messes of my own making. I’m tuning my ear to Your voice today. I’m filling my heart and mind with the Truth of Your Word. And now, I’m heading in a new direction with You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.


Psalm 32:8, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.” (NIV)

Psalm 25:12, “Who, then, are those who fear the LORD? He will instruct them in the ways they should choose.” (NIV)


We long for purpose, security, fulfillment, identity — but where can we find those things? First 5 and Online Bible Studies have teamed up with Lysa TerKeurst to write a new study, The Answers to Your Deepest Longings: 40 Days Through the Bible. We want to help you stop the endless cycle of seeking and searching for satisfaction and start finding the answers to your deepest longings. Our study starts September 7. Click here to learn more.




You can connect with Lysa on a daily basis on Facebook and Instagram.


Here are some of Lysa’s favorite “Go-To Scripts” and the Scripture references that go with them. In the comments, share which one most resonates with you!

1. I was made for more than to be stuck in a vicious cycle of defeat. (Deuteronomy 2:3)

2. When I’m tempted, I either remove the temptation or remove myself from the situation. (1 Corinthians 10:13-14)

3. I don’t have to worry about letting God down because I was never holding Him up — God’s grace is sufficient. (2 Corinthians 12:9-11)

© 2020 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

Proverbs 31 Ministries believes the Bible is clear about the sins of racism and injustice. To read our full response, click here.


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