John spent twelve years in prison for preaching. He could have gotten out early if he agreed not to preach. He could not agree to that and served his entire term.
John knew suffering well. His mother and sister died when he was 15. His father remarried a month later. A year later John was drafted and went off to fight in war.
John later married. His first wife died ten years later and left him with four children under the age of ten. One child was blind. John would remarry a year later. A year after his second marriage he began the first of two jail terms.
His first term was twelve years. This was in the 1600’s. A time before welfare or social insurance existed. He left his family and prayed they wouldn’t go hungry and starve to death. Later in his life he would serve another year term.
John knew something about suffering. He also knew how to rightly suffer. John was John Bunyan. He wrote the The Pilgrim’s Progress while he was in prison, along with other books. John’s ministry continued in prison and flourished, and his writings and encouragement have lasted centuries.
I am an emotional cripple….
I am an emotional cripple. While the scriptures command me to be disciplined I struggle to control my emotions. In fact they often rule me.
When trials come I am prone to become self centered. Whoa is me. Marcy is suffering. Everyone look at her. It’s pathetic.
“To our chipper age (at least in the prosperous West) the study of those who have suffered may seem somber at times, but the day you hear that you have cancer or that your child is blind or that a mob is coming you turn away from the chipper books to the weighty ones that were written on the precipice of eternity where the fragrance of heaven and the stench of hell are both in the air.” John Piper
I am a guilty participant in the chipper age, but the moment bad news comes I am begging for depth and sustenance. The vague Christian sayings, popular worship music, and modern books just don’t satisfy my hunger. I need someone who has lasted centuries. I need someone like John Bunyan.
John somehow survived his suffering without the aid of social media. Imagine going through a trial and not being able to post a thing about it. Imagine not taking a picture of the jail cell, taking a selfie or sending a snap chat. How did he survive?
- He died to everything that can be properly called a thing of this life. Now how often do we find that example today? John reckoned everything dead. His wife, children, health, enjoyment, and himself. He lived only for Christ, and to do God’s will.
- He lived upon God who is invisible. He believed the only way to do that was to lay hold of Christ through the Word of God. Bunyan lived upon God by living upon the Word of God. Because of this he enjoyed the deepest fellowship with Christ he had ever had.
Oh my dear Christian, do we live like this when suffering comes into our life, or do we become emotional cripples? Does our ministry flourish, and our fellowship with Christ deepen, or do we find ourselves living on Face book and letting it dictate how we respond to suffering.
I need people like John Bunyan to show me how to suffer rightly. I need their example to show me how to rely upon on God who is invisible. I need them to remind me the importance of Scripture, and the way to apply it to my life.
I pray God you help me suffer rightly. I pray that we enjoy a renewed and deepening fellowship. I pray that I can live upon you, and that your Word will come alive in my mind and heart.
Because of His grace, and For His glory,