The Pilgrim’s Progress is a book written in the 1600s by author and preacher John Bunyan. It is an allegory of the daily walk of a Christian. I read this book first as a child and then many times since. It’s still one of my favorites.
The story begins with a man named Christian who lives in the City of Destruction. Christian is aware of a great burden on his back which can only be removed by traveling to the Celestial City, a place a man called Evangelist spoke about many times. Christian and several others from the city set out on the journey but most turn back, and he is left with only one friend to go with him.
Christian and his friend, Pliable, find the journey challenging. One of the first difficulties they encounter is a pit called the “Slough of Despond” and he and his friend quickly find themselves sinking in it.
The story continues with Pliable eventually climbing out of the pit while Christian remains stuck. He looks to Pliable for help. But Pliable, relieved to be free from the pit, turns around and goes home and Christian finds himself alone.
John Bunyan included the pit in his book describing the life of a Christian because despondence can be a common obstacle in our relationship with God. Collins Dictionary defines despond or despondence as to “lose heart or hope; become disheartened; despair.”
At some point, all of us have either felt disheartened and full of despair or know someone who has. If it is you, it’s hard to get out of it. If it’s someone you know, it’s hard to know how to help them.
Despondence comes from being bogged down by our sin and guilt, and living in the fear it creates. According to the story, Christian couldn’t get out of the pit because of the weight of the burden on his back. Eventually a man called Help came by, offered his hand and pulled him out.
Sometimes you’ll find yourself in a pit waiting for others to pull you out, but not everyone is able to walk with you and that’s ok.
We’re all on our own journey. Pay attention to the things you allow in your mind and in your heart. Remembering how Jesus frees us from the burden on our back can help us stay out of the pit and on the right path.