Have you ever been in a relationship, a circumstance, a job, a situation where you had unrealistic expectations foisted upon you? A spouse that expects to much of you? Parents who demand grades, scores, and obedience at all costs? An employer whose demands are untethered from reality?
How do you bear up under days like that? Many of us, myself included simply crumble into a pile of failure, depression, and despair. The situation becomes a constant reminder of how far lacking we are and how far we fall from what's expected.
Consider Faithful from the Pilgrim's Progress as Christian catches up with him on the journey to the celestial city. His story is similar to every pilgrim (Christian) who lives life under their own power, strength, and effort.
Faithful: But, good brother, hear me out. So soon as the man overtook me, it was but a word and a blow; for down he knocked me and laid me for dead. But when I was a little come to myself again I asked him wherefore he served me so. He said because of my secret inclining to Adam the First. And with that he struck me another deadly blow on the breast, and beat me down backward; so I lay at his foot as dead as before. So when I came to myself again I cried him mercy: but he said, I know not how to show mercy, and with that, he knocked me down again. He had doubtless made an end of me, but that one came by and bid him forbear.
Christian: Who was that that bid him forbear?
Faithful: I did not know him at first: but as he went by, I perceived the holes in his hands and in his side: Then I concluded that he was our Lord. So I went up the hill.
Christian: That man that overtook you was Moses. He spareth none; neither knoweth he how to shew mercy to those that transgress the law.
Did you see what took place? Faithful was on his way to "heaven" under his own strength. Doing it his own way. And on his way, he was overtaken by a man, that knocked him down and "laid me for dead". He was beaten by God’s Law relentlessly. He would have been left for dead had it not been for the "one who came by and bid him forbear" He was hopeless and left for dead.
As the Pilgrim’s Progress continues the reader becomes more and more familiar with “the one who came by.” I wonder how you’re bearing up under the expectations surrounding you. If you’ve been left for dead and crushed under the weight of expectation, demand, and law then why not today turn to the one who was crushed and left for dead in your place?
This post corresponds with Pastor Jacob's August 20 sermon "Our Steadfast Lord" from Psalm 100.