I had intended to just quote from this section of John Bunyan’s Pilgrims Progress and then interject a few thoughts on being in this slough (that’s another word for swamp). Yet as I read through this I could not help but weep and be extremely grateful for that hand that continuously pulls me out of this swamp of despair. Read through this and think through it today and tomorrow I want to provide a brief commentary:
Now I saw in my dream, that all the highway roads, and lanes, that led from the valley of Destruction towards the gate of the way of life, were full of people, who were traveling toward that gate, and some of them walked along very vigorously, others halted, and grew weary, through the violent heat of the season, which made them even ready to faint; for it was in the hottest time of all the year; and the sun burnt up the herb of the field, and scorched the poor travelers, so that many of them were forced to sit down and rest themselves; and in the night time many of them returned back again to their old habitations;
others more hardy than the rest, went on till they came to the Slough-of-Despond, where Pliable forsook Christian, and there falling into the filth and mire of that place, were so disheartened, that they returned in whole droves to their own dwellings again; and very few there were who would venture through the Slough; yet some got very dextrously over the steps, without being in the least bemired, whilst others, through ignorance, or heedlesness, missing those steps, were forced to wade through the dirt, which was very deep, and made their passage exceeding painful; but at length, with much ado, they weather’d the point, and master’d the difficulties of that horrid quagmire, and got safe upon dry ground.
Among the rest of the travelers that got over this Slough, I saw a young man of an amiable countenance, walking by himself, after he had got clear of the Slough; but he was all over bedaubed with the filth of that place, which made him go very heavily on; for what with struggling to get thro’, and what with the apprehensions he lay under during his passage, he was extreamly weakned, and his joints were loosened: Besides, it was the nature of the dirt of this place, to cause a trembling and disorder in the limbs of those that were defiled with it, and to whatsoever part of their body it stuck, there it would do them some injury. Now the young man being all over clammed with it, he went with a very slow pace, his head hanging down, his hands quivering, and his feet tripping at the least unevenness or ruggedness in the way, and a speck or two of the diret being spatter’d in his eyes, made him dim-sighted, so that he groped along like one that is blind, and sometimes stepped out of the path.
In this condition he was, when at length I saw in my dream, that he sat down upon the ground to bemoan his sad estate, and he wept very bitterly; and behold, a bright cloud hovered over his head, which gradually descending, overshadowed him, and out of the cloud a hand was reached forth, which, with the tears that ran like rivers from his eyes, washed the dirt from off his face and his whole body, so that in a moment (as it were) his sight and his strength were restored to him again, and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, Son of man, go on in the strength of the Lord thy God. So he was mightly comforted and refreshed after this, and began to rouze up himself, being more nimble and active, more vigorous and strong than ever he was before; and his eyes being healed also, he clearly saw the shining light that Evangelist shewed to Christian. Then he tript along over the plain, and made directly up to the shining light, by means of which he quickly found the wicket-gate; at which he knocked aloud, minding what was written over the gate, viz. "Knock, and it shall be opened."
The Pilgrim’s Progress is actually Free to purchase on your Kindle today. You can also find it online in several places.