The Valley of Humiliation

This pastoral passage was first written for LRBC on October 25 2015.

‘Humiliation’ in older English is when someone is humbled by something. For example – a student may be moved into a lower class or miss out on making it into a sports team, or a person may lose their good health or a family might have to forgo certain luxuries such as owning a second car or enjoying meals at restaurants. When this happens, it can be an opportunity for us to learn contentment and thankfulness, or it can be an opportunity for the devil to incite discontent and despondency.

In The Pilgrim’s Progress, the main character called ‘Christian’ struggled with this when he passed through the Valley of Humiliation. In part two of the story, Bunyan explains it through the mouth of his character Mr. Great-heart, who says: “It is those who ‘slip’ coming down into the valley [like Christian did], who must expect conflicts here… This valley, of itself, is a peaceful, fruitful country. But pilgrims, not knowing how to adjust themselves to humiliation, yield to wrong feelings. Then Satan, taking advantage of their moods, sends his imps… and they attack these immature disciples… many humble people have made their homes here and live in contentment… it is those who have accustomed themselves to living at higher altitudes who have the most trouble here.”

How will you use humbling times? Will you learn contentment and thankfulness from it, or will you struggle; having become accustomed to the best things in life? It is important to discern God’s hand in our lives, the good times and the bad, so that we can “humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you” (James 4:10).