I have almost come to the end of the first part of Pilgrim’s Progress and am in the chapter known as the Ninth Stage. It has been an interesting dream, or allegory to read on the topic of faith and being a disciple in Christ. It is a good illustration on the many, many trials us humans endure. Some which test our faith, some which strengthen them and some which show us how easy it is to fall prey to the things and ideas of this world, including our own minds.
One of the individuals that Christian and Hopeful come across is a man called Little-Faith. While embarking on his journey, he is robbed and badly beaten by three men. On his person he had other things besides the money. Some precious jewels and a scroll that ensured his entry into the Celestial City. But because he was so badly beaten and robbed, he was weakened, It took him a while to get moving again. But he did. And he despaired over the things he had lost (his money, probably his self-esteem too).
Hopeful notes that it must have been a great comfort that the robbers did not steal his jewels from him. Christian replies that it might have been, should Little-Faith have appreciated this fact, as he should have. He made little use of the jewels (they were worthless in the land they were presently in) and barely mentioned the scroll (which was his entry ticket into the Celestial City).
This part of the story is probably a little harder to read for some, but ultimately it’s about what really matters in your journey through life from this to the next.
Many trials and tribulations befall each of us in our lives, but ultimately how we get past these difficulties is often attitude and support. Both of these are tools.
Being a faithful Christian is not easy. You are met with temptation, encouragement to doubt, encouragement to transgress (sin), encouragement to retaliate (against those who anger you), encouragement to do all the things Jesus stood against. You are abused for your belief and mocked by those who assume themselves of high intellect and presume you to be an ignorant, bigoted fool.
But the more you cleave closer to God and study the Holy Scriptures located in the Bible; the more you worship and pray in earnest, the more you strive to improve yourself (to be more like Christ) and most of all, the acceptance of Jesus as Lord and Saviour over your life in this and the next world, the more likely you are to pass the tests in this world. The less likely your faith will fall away.
Therefore it is important to water your faith. It will grow, like a maple seed grows into a large maple tree, often able to withstand the most powerful of storms and extreme situations. But if its roots haven’t taken hold and it is young in maturity (lacking in faith, wisdom and some basic steps for foundation), it will easily be loosed from the ground by one small tug (adverse situation).
I had faith, but it was akin to Little-Faith. Why else did I end up nearly ending my life and committing the sin of murder (of the self?).
I became so consumed by the result of what had happened to my life and what I did not have, that I was no longer aware of what was still good in it. Having a healthy dose of faith and seeking a closer relationship with the Holy Spirit will give you a better perspective, so that even if you hit a low point, you can quickly pull yourself out before you get sucked into and drowning in the Swamp of Despair (the Swamp alludes to a place in Pilgrim’s Progress).
When little faith grows into great faith in the Lord, Philippians chapter 4 shows us how much more bearable this world is, regardless of the situation.
Verse 12: I know how to get along and live humbly [in difficult times], and I also know how to enjoy abundance and live in prosperity. In any and every circumstance I have learned the secret [of facing life], whether well-fed or going hungry, whether having an abundance or being in need. – AMP
13: I can do all things [which He has called me to do] through Him who strengthens and empowers me [to fulfill His purpose – I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency; I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him who infuses me with inner strength and confidence and peace]. – AMP
I have made utilisation of the amplified translation because it makes clear the intention of the passage. If you are struggling, you need clarity. If you need clarity, open your Bible and start praying. Even if you don’t know what to pray about, just start. The hardest part is always taking a first step.