Pastor Tullian Tchividjian explains 4 barriers to honestly dealing with suffering in Chapter 2 of Glorious Ruin:
1. We create a hierarchy of suffering which we then project onto God Himself. While it might be admirable to keep our suffering in perspective, we cannot dictate to God what He should or should not care about. If we don’t feel our suffering is great enough to concern God, we won’t honestly express what we’re truly feeling.
2. We establish arbitrary boundaries to suffering such as time allotments or cliched phrasing. As the author states, “when we do not grasp that God is present in pain, we eventually insist on victory, or, worse, blame the sufferer for ‘not getting over it’ fast enough.”
3. We insist that there is a proper way to suffer- for example, “real men don’t cry”.
4. We interpret an admission of suffering or weakness as a lack of faith. Prayer concerns may be voiced only in hopeful terms rather than expressing transparent honesty regarding our struggles.
Pastor Tchividjian concludes that each of these barriers reveals a deep-seated misconception about Christianity:
“Contrary to popular belief, Christianity is not about good people getting better. If anything, it is about bad people coping with their failure to be good.”