Misplaced Expectations of Self
It probably will make sense to anyone the minute I say it that unrealistic expectations of yourself will worsen your suffering. There’s a lot of spiritual pride that I carried into my suffering. I’m the gospel guy. I’m a theologian, so I was thinking I’m going to be fine, no matter what.
That self-reliance and self-sufficiency is unrealistic. I’m a package of weaknesses held together by divine grace. That’s what I actually am. You start showing me how weak I actually am, and panic sets in.
God has not promised me a comfortable life. He’s promised me himself.
Misplaced Expectations of Life
We can also have unrealistic expectations about the nature of life. I don’t think that we take seriously the drama of the fallenness of our world. That fallenness will enter your door. If you’re not suffering now, you’re near somebody who is. If you’re not suffering now, you will someday. I don’t think that people regularly expect that suffering will be part of our experience.
I think our expectation is that tomorrow will be just the same as today was. This world is not operating the way that God intended for it to operate. There are things that are going to happen—in relationships, in community, in the economy, in my physical body—that are the natural outcomes of the brokenness of this world.
Misplaced Expectations of God
We also have unrealistic expectations of God and of what he has promised. God has not promised me a comfortable life. He’s promised me himself. To think that if God’s faithful, my life will be comfortable is dramatically unrealistic.
What happens in suffering is you will then mourn the death of what you thought you could depend on, what you thought was true. Actually those things weren’t true and that’s what is being proven in your suffering.
This is a guest article by Paul David Tripp, author of Suffering: Gospel Hope When Life Doesn’t Make Sense. This post originally appeared on crossway.org; used with permission.
Paul David Tripp (DMin, Westminster Theological Seminary) is a pastor, author, and international conference speaker. He is also the president of Paul Tripp Ministries. He has written a number of popular books on Christian living, including What Did You Expect?, Dangerous Calling, Parenting, and New Morning Mercies. He lives in Philadelphia with his wife Luella and they have four grown children.