Blessed is the man whose strength is in You,
Whose heart is set on pilgrimage (Psalm 84:5, NKJV).
Having just celebrated the Thanksgiving holiday, the word “pilgrim” is still fresh in my mind. I also can’t hear the word without thinking of John Wayne and his unique way of addressing others by the term “pilgrim.” But it’s “The Pilgrim’s Progress from This World to That Which Is to Come” (yes, that’s the full title!) by John Bunyan (published in 1678) that really captures the meaning of the word “pilgrimage” in Psalm 84.
The primary character in this never-out-of-print allegory is Christian, whose earthly journey is followed from his hometown of “City of Destruction” (this world) to “Celestial City” (that which is to come). Along the way Christian encounters nearly every temptation imaginable, is sidetracked, discouraged, and exhausted. But Christian also meets a friend on his journey—Faithful—who encourages him to keep going.
We can learn a lot from Christian and Faithful, the most important being that if we think we can survive our journey in our own strength, we will certainly meet with destruction. But Psalm 84 assures us that if we understand that God Himself is our strength and if we have set our hearts on allowing Him to carry us to the end of our pilgrimage from this temporal world to the eternal one, we are blessed indeed.
As we come together to celebrate our Lord’s birth and to look forward to all that God has purposed for us in the year to come, may we set our hearts afresh on pilgrimage and rejoice in the knowledge that God will surely bring us through.