Monday, July 6, 2009

Further thoughts on Grace Abounding...

In 1660, John Bunyan was indicted for preaching the gospel without a license, and sent to Bedford Gaol. There he remained until 1672, when Charles II issued the Declaration of Religious Indulgence. During that time he supported his wife and four children, one of whom was blind, by weaving shoelaces. For twelve years his family lived in wretched poverty. He spoke of his poor blind child, Mary, reduced to begging and exposed to physical abuse.

He tells the story in an appendix to his autobiography, Grace Abounding.

Three times Bunyan petitioned the court for leniency. The last time he sent his wife, Elizabeth, in the hope that her pitiable condition would soften the hearts of the magistrates. Instead, they drove her away.

Bunyan describes her reaction in her own words: "Though I was somewhat timorous at my first entrance into the chamber, yet before I went out, I could not but break forth into tears, not so much because they were so hard-hearted against me, and my husband, but to think what a sad account such poor creatures will have to give at the coming of the Lord, when they shall answer for all things whatsoever they have done in the body, whether it be good or whether it be bad."

I was touched by Elizabeth's tears for those who treated her so cruelly, and her concern for their spiritual well being...and thought of Jeremiah’s sorrow over the imminent destruction of Moab, Judah‘s bitter enemy: “I will weep for Moab, / And I will cry out for all Moab; / I will mourn for the men of Kir Heres (the capital city).”[1]

There is no glee here. Only sorrow. Here again is the face that grace turns toward its adversaries.


[1] Jeremiah 48:31

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