Survey question: how many of you have read Pilgrim’s Progress in some form? Watched the film version?
If you have, you may recognize this blog’s title. If you haven’t, I will give you a tiny overview of the plot line. The key character is Pilgrim. He is on a dangerous journey to the Celestial City. Alone at times, he also meets and travels with two key friends for part of his journey.
One important fact to note is that the author John Bunyan wrote this classic allegory in prison.
Quite a few tales of courage, faith, and redemption have been linked to prison time.
Joseph — betrayed, lied about, imprisoned;
Corrie and Betsy Ten Boom incarcerated by the Nazis for hiding Jews;
Les Miserable’s Jean Valjean languishing in a wretched labor prison for the paltry crime of stealing a loaf of bread are just a few examples.
The particular prison Doubting Castle in the Pilgrim’s Progress is run by the GIant Despair. He lurks around the countryside and snags those who have strayed off course or missed a sign for the Celestial City.
The Giant Despair caught Pilgrim and his friend when they took a side road.
Ever met this demonic Giant? I know I have. I’m sure our husbands have.
Chronic illness and depression are bedfellows.
The Psalmist wrestled with Despair. “Why are you cast down, oh my soul? Hope in God.”
He admits in Psalm 34, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous.”
HE couldn’t pretend the pain, sorrow, and affliction didn’t exist. It does.
If you aren’t currently undergoing some personal hardship or sorrow, just scroll down your Facebook or turn on the TV. The tragedies will sucker-punch your soul. (If you have a tender heart of compassion like Jesus, that is.) What a broken world!
Well, it’s one thing if your sick husband is chronically depressed.
It’s quite another thing when that depression spills over to your heart. You’re the caregiver. The heart of the home. Someone has to keep their head above water, right?
Like Pilgrim and his friend in the stone cold dungeon of the Castle of Despair, neither one could figure out how to break free. No way out. No strength to fight the Giant. Certain doom!
Suddenly they remember the key on a chain around Pilgrim’s neck. It’s called the key of faith! In the nick of time, they try the key. It fits the lock.
Making a daring jailbreak, they return to the narrow path that leads to eternal life.
I love the key of faith reference! So many times I forget about that key. Faith was a gift given to me by God.
When trial strikes, I feel the panic attempt to swallow me like being hauled off to a dark castle dungeon. Like a friend wrote to me recently, I hate that feeling! I should know better!
Time and time again I have seen God answer prayer and provide for our current need when we cry out to Him in prayer. So this little post is a reminder to me and an outstretched hand of hope and encouragement for you.
1.) Take time to “Be still, and know that I AM God.”
Like that famous line of poetry ( Browning?),”How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.” Remembering AND naming God’s great acts and His attributes is very faith- building. Pray these attributes. God, I know You are faithful. I know You are just, yet merciful. I know there is no limits to Your resources. Your wisdom is bigger far than my problems right now.
2.) Like Israel’s stones of remembrance, make a list of answered prayers.
Yes, there is surprising power in the worn out cliche, Count your blessings, name them one by one. When I do this, my eyes just can’t stop leaking! Sometimes, like Paul and Silas, you start praising and the prison door does swing right open. Other times, your patience and faith will grow when you feel like you are forgotten in prison like Joseph. But God was with Joseph all along.
3.) Ask a friend to pray with you.
That happened to me this week, also. A friend reached out to me. We shared prayer requests. It was so very encouraging! Dear ones, do not hesitate to ask for prayer. Right here. Right now. Not only will I pray for you, I know other readers will.
Pray for me, for us? I want to hold tightly to the key of faith as my husband starts chemo this week. Also, months of pain management has failed to help. Chronic pain! Ugh! It’s wicked ugly awful! It wreaks havoc on body and mind.
With Jesus’ strength, He will keep our souls and our feet on the paths of righteousness straight to the gates of the Celestial City. Mutual prayers needed. Share below, please!