What is the great difficulty in being a Christian? It is that thing we risk losing when we grow out of childhood, humility. More often than not we become proud. Then we must relearn what as a child we once knew. We must enter what John Bunyan called in his book, The Pilgrim’s Progress, The Valley of Humiliation.
What follows is from the second part of the The Pilgrim’s Progress. Here Christian’s family, led by Christiana, his lady, follows his example. Christian is now deceased and his family regrets not going on pilgrimage with him. Therefore, Christiana with her boys and a neighbor lady, Mercy, have joined together in a pilgrimage. Fortunately, our Lord has favored these ladies and the boys with a conductor and a protector, Mr. Great-heart. These are his words.
Great. Then said Mr. Great-heart, “We need not to be so afraid of this valley, for here is nothing to hurt us, unless we procure it to ourselves. It is true that Christian did here meet with Apollyon, with whom he had also a sore combat; but that fray was the fruit of those slips that he got in his going down the hill; for they that get slips there, must look for combats here. And hence it is that this valley has got so hard a name. For the common people, when they hear that some frightful thing has befallen such a one in such a place, are of an opinion that that place is haunted with some foul fiend or evil spirit; when, alas! it is for the fruit of their doing that such things do befall them there. This Valley of Humiliation is of itself as fruitful a place as any the crow flies over; and I am persuaded, if we could hit upon it, we might find, somewhere hereabouts, something that might give us an account why Christian was so hardly beset in this place.”
Then James said to his mother, “Lo, yonder stands a pillar, and it looks as if something was written thereon: let us go and see what it is.” So they went, and found there written, “Let Christian’s slips before he came hither, and the battles that he met with in this place, be a warning to those that come after.”
“Lo!” said their guide, “did not I tell you that there was something hereabouts that would give intimation of the reason why Christian was so hard beset in this place?” Then turning himself to Christiana, he said, “No disgrace to Christian, more than to many others whose hap and loss his was; for it is easier going up than down this hill; and that can be said but of few hills in all these parts of the world. But we will leave the good man: he is at rest; he also had a brave victory over his enemy. Let Him that dwelleth above grant that we fare no worse, when we come to be tried, than he.
“But we will come again to this Valley of Humiliation. It is the best and most fruitful piece of ground in all these parts. It is fat ground, and, as you see, consisteth much in meadows; and if a man was to come here in the summer-time, as we do now, if he knew not anything before thereof, and if he also delighted himself in the sight of his eyes, he might see that that would be delightful to him. Behold how green this valley is, also how beautified with lilies! I have also known many laboring men that have got good estates in this valley of Humiliation; for ‘God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble.’ Indeed, it is a very fruitful soil, and doth bring forth by handfuls. Some also have wished that the next way to their Father’s house were here, that they might be troubled no more with either hills or mountains to go over; but the way is the way, and there’s an end.”
Now, as they were going along and talking, they espied a boy feeding his father’s sheep. The boy was in very mean clothes, but of a very fresh and well-favored countenance; and as he sat by himself he sang. “Hark,” said Mr. Great-heart, “to what the shepherd’s boy saith.” So they hearkened, and he said:“He that is down needs fear no fallHe that is low, no pride;He that is humble ever shallHave God to be his guide.“I am content with what I haveLittle be it or much:And, Lord, contentment still I craveBecause Thou savest much.“Fulness to such a burden is,That go on pilgrimage;Here little, and hereafter bliss,Is best from age to age.”
Then said their guide, “Do you hear him? I will dare to say that this boy lives a merrier life, and wears more of that herb called heart’s-ease in his bosom, than he that is clad in silk and velvet. But we will proceed in our account of this valley.
The Valley of Humiliation requires us to accept God is God, and we are not. To survive in the valley, we must acknowledge we do not have all the answers. We must again look upon Creation with wonder. As ColorStorm does in Some poor notes here, we must laugh at ourselves, that we might ever believe there is no God.
To find joy and contentment in The Valley of Humiliation, we must turn to God, acknowledge He is God and that we are His Creation. We must be grateful He is our Lord. For an explanation, see Right on Schedule.. by insanitybytes22.
Here is an earlier post on The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan.