Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The women in John Bunyan's life (part 2) Elizabeth Bunyan

How I love the women in my church who stand when everything around their soul gives way! Oh, how the grace and the glory of God shines off of their lives! I've been there 28 years. I've walked through a lot of dark valleys with them, and I've buried a lot of children. [God's purpose for men and women] doesn't lead to wimpy womanhood, but it does lead to ... true womanhood. (John Piper, The ultimate meaning of true womanhood)
Elizabeth was only 19 when she married 31 year old John, a year after his first wife died. She became step-mother to four children, the oldest one blind. She was pregnant one year after their marriage, but the shock of John's arrest drove her into premature labour, and her baby died. Grieving, inexperienced, and lonely, she was left to raise John's four children during the twelve years he was in prison.

When I heard her story, I couldn't help wondering how she felt. Left to bring up the young family of a man she had recently married, weak and in pain after 8 days labour, her baby lost and her husband in prison because he was unwilling to stop preaching the gospel - was she tempted to bitterness, complaining or resentment? Did whispered thoughts go through her head - "He was only asked to stop preaching, not to deny his faith ... he doesn't really love me ... God has abandoned me ... "?

Instead, she stood bravely before a hostile courtroom, pleaded for her husband's freedom, and defended his right to preach the gospel. I'll tell you the story in her own words, as she told it to John, for every word shines with a fierce intelligence, courage and grace ...

Read the rest at EQUIP book club today.

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