Yesterday, I started reading a book by John Piper called ‘The Hidden Smile of God’. It was a recommendation by my dear brother in Christ, Kerry. Due to money being a little tight, he ended up buying it for me. For that, I am extremely grateful.
I found some solace and kindredness with John Bunyan through Piper’s retelling of his life. I think every Christian has felt like this at one time or another so I thought it would be good to share this part with others. Referring to John Bunyan, Piper writes:
It’s hard to put a date on his conversion, because in retelling the process in Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners he includes almost no dates or times. But it was a lengthy and agonizing process.
He was poring over the Scriptures but finding no peace or assurance. There were seasons of great doubt about the Scriptures and about his own soul. “A whole flood of blasphemies, both against God, Christ, and the Scriptures were poured upon my spirit, to my great confusion and astonishment… How can you tell but that the Turks had as good scriptures to prove their Mahomet the Savior as we have to prove our Jesus?” “My heart was at times exceeding hard. If I would have given a thousand pounds for a tear, I could not shed one.”
When he thought that he was established in the Gospel, there came a season of overwhelming darkness following a terrible temptation when he heard the words, “sell and part with this most blessed Christ… Let him go if he will.” He tells us that “I felt my heart freely consent thereto. Oh, the diligence of satan; oh, the desperateness of man’s heart.” For two years, he tells us, he was in the doom of damnation. “I feared that this wicked sin of mine might be that sin unpardonable.” “Oh, no one knows the terrors of those days but myself.” “I found it a hard work now to pray to God because despair was swallowing me up.”
Then comes what seemed to be the decisive moment.
“One day as I was passing into the field… this sentence fell upon my soul. Thy righteousness is in Heaven. And methought, withal, I saw with the eyes of my soul Jesus Christ at God’s right hand; there, I say, was my righteousness; so that wherever I was, or whatever I was doing, God could not say of me, He wants [lacks] my righteousness, for that was just before Him. I also saw, moreover, that it was not my good frame of heart that made my righteousness better, nor yet my bad frame that made my righteousness worse, for my righteousness was Jesus Christ Himself, ‘The same yesterday, today, and forever.’ Hebrews 13:8. Now did my chains fall off my legs indeed. I was loosed from my afflictions and irons; my temptations also fled away; so that from that time those dreadful scriptures of God [about the unforgivable sin] left off to trouble me; now went I also home rejoicing for the grace and love of God.”
This is a wonderful book to read at this time in my life. This book, one of many in the Swans Are Not Silent series, discusses the lives of John Bunyan, David Brainerd, and William Cowper. Cowper is the writer of one of my favorite hymns, There Is A Fountain Filled With Blood.
I look forward to finishing this book, praying that the Lord would use it, along with His Word, to mature me and to change my perspective during the times when I’m feeling like I’m in a dark tunnel with no end in sight. It’s easier to lose hope than it is to fight for it. May the Lord strengthen us all.