Seventeenth century England saw much political and religious turmoil; resulting in the execution of a king, a civil war, restoration of the monarchy, and continued persecution against Christians who did not conform to the official dictates of the state. John Bunyan was a devout Christian who found himself on the wrong side of the law more than once, and all because he did not comply with government decrees.

On one occasion he spent twelve years in prison (although he was released on occasion to visit family and friends before going back to his prison cell). During his times of incarceration he wrote some of the greatest works of English literature we’ve ever seen: Pilgrim’s Progress and Grace Abounding.

What kind of faith does a man have when almost everything is taken away from him and he is shut up in prison unjustly? Here is a prayer from Bunyan, and I think it is a good one to dwell on as we face a new year:

“Oh my soul, this is not the place of despair. This is not the time to despair. As long as my eyes can find a promise in the Bible, as long as there is the least mention of grace, as long as there is a moment left to me of breath or life in this world, so long will I wait or look for mercy, so long will I fight against unbelief and despair.”

Amen.