The Cross and the Hill Difficulty

We are told in Romans 8, I Peter 4 & 5, and James 1 to patiently endure the suffering that God wills for us with joy. That is a high calling. This reminds me of one of my favorite stories, Pilgrims Progress. Below is a section of Christian at the Cross and the Hill Difficulty.

Now I saw in my dream, that the highway up which CHRISTIAN was to go was fenced on either side with a wall; and that wall was called “Salvation”.

“In that day shall this song be sung in the land of Judah; We have a strong city; salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks.” Isaiah 26:1 

Up this way, therefore, did burdened CHRISTIAN run; but not without great difficulty, because of the load on his back.

He ran thus till he came at a place somewhat ascending; and upon that place stood a Cross, and a little below, in the bottom, a sepulchre. So I saw in my dream, that just as CHRISTIAN came up to the cross, his burden loosed from off his shoulders, and fell from off his back, and began to tumble; and so continued to do till it came to the mouth of the sepulchre, where it fell in, and I saw it no more.

Then was CHRISTIAN glad and lightsome, and said, with a merry heart,

“He hath given me rest by his sorrow,
And life by his death.”

Then he stood still awhile to look and wonder; for it was very surprising to him, that the sight of the cross should thus ease him of his burden. He looked therefore, and looked again, even till the springs that were in his head sent the waters down his cheeks.

“And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.” Zechariah 12:10 

Now, as he stood looking and weeping, behold three shining ones came to him, and saluted him with, “Peace be to thee!” so the first said to him, “Thy sins be forgiven thee”;  

“When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.” Mark 2:5 

the second stripped him of his rags, and clothed him with change of raiment;

“And he answered and spake unto those that stood before him, saying, Take away the filthy garments from him. And unto him he said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment.” Zechariah 3:4 

the third also set a mark in his forehead, and gave him a roll with a seal upon it,

“In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise” Ephesians 1:13

which he bade him look on as he ran, and that he should give it in at the Celestial Gate: so they went their way. Then CHRISTIAN gave three leaps for joy, and went on singing:

“Thus far did I come laden with my sin,
Nor could aught ease the grief that I was in,
Till I came hither. What a place is this!
Must here be the beginning of my bliss!
Must here the burden fall from off my back!
Must here the strings that bound it to me crack!
Blest cross! blest sepulchre! blest rather be
The Man that there was put to shame for me!”

THE HILL DIFFICULTY

I beheld, then, that they all went on till they came to the foot of the hill “Difficulty,” at the bottom of which was a spring. There were also in the same place two other ways besides that which came straight from the gate; one turned to the left hand, and the other to the right, at the bottom of the hill: but the narrow way lay right up the hill (and the name of the going up the side of the hill is called Difficulty). CHRISTIAN now went to the spring, and drank thereof to refresh himself;

“They shall not hunger nor thirst; neither shall the heat nor sun smite them: for he that hath mercy on them shall lead them, even by the springs of water shall he guide them.” Isaiah 49:10 

and then began to go up the hill, saying:

“This hill, though high, I covet to ascend;
The difficulty will not me offend,
For I perceive the way to life lies here:
Come, pluck up, heart, let’s neither faint nor fear!
Better, though difficult, the right way to go,
Than wrong, though easy, where the end is woe.”

I Peter 2:21, For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.

I Peter 1:3-5, Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

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