Patricia Hofer

The “Help” that shows us the way

In Pilgrim’s Progress, Bunyan’s main character Christian has hardly begun his walk of salvation when he finds himself struggling alone in the Slough of Despond. Growing up on a South Dakota farm, I learned early what sloughs are. They are the temporary bogs or marshy ponds that appear in fields during the wet years only to disappear again in the dry years. When Bunyan’s sojourner encountered his “Slough,” he got bogged down in its “many doubts and fears and many discouraging apprehensions” (Thomas version 18).
Bunyan’s hero Christian began to “flounder in the slough alone” (17). Finally, after great effort, he was able to struggle to the “far side.” But he just couldn’t muster the “strength and skill” necessary to pull himself out of the miry pond. After a time, a fellow pilgrim, Help, came to the floundering man and called: “What are you doing out there?” When the now exhausted Christian explained his predicament, Help said to him: “But why did you not look for the steps?” And then Help said to Bunyan’s sojourner, “Give me your hand.” And immediately he was on “solid ground” again.” (Drawn from Living Strong, chapter 14, ©️ 2014)

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