Patricia Hofer

There is “Help” in Bunyan’s “Slough of Despond”

I remember reading Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress (a long time ago) and being impressed with the wisdom in it. It was there that he coined such phrases as “Difficulty Hill” and the “Valley of Humiliation.” I really liked the “Slough of Despond”–where I found myself often. I summarized it this way: “When Bunyan’s sojourner encountered his “Slough,” he got bogged down in its “many doubts and fears and many discouraging apprehensions” (Thomas version 18). …And so 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. (Living Strong, chapter 14)

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