Faithfulness eclipses fame as the mark of greatness. Not everyone is named Augustine, Luther, or Graham. The names of some are obscured by time, but they have done the Father’s will. Take John Hooper, for example—born in Sommersetshire, England, in 1495. While studying at Oxford, he discovered the Book of Romans which “seriously affected the salvation of my soul,” he wrote, “and my everlasting welfare. Therefore with an earnest study, I employed myself therein both night and day.” Hooper found the death of Christ sufficient for salvation without additional work or merit. He confessed, “I had blasphemed God by wicked worship and an almost idolatrous heart until I became rightly acquainted with the Lord.”
His Reformation beliefs put him at risk, and he escaped to the coast on a borrowed horse, then to France and later to Zurich where he studied Greek, theology, and the writings of Zwingli. Returning to England during King Edward’s reign, he preached to packed houses and before the king himself. His wife watched with alarm as he wore himself out in ministry. But his labors ceased when Bloody Queen Mary ascended the throne and unleashed a storm against Protestants. Hooper was thrown into Fleet prison where his clammy bed of rotten straw lay beside the city sewer. Hooper described conditions in a letter on January 7, 1554: “On the one side is the stink and filth of the house, and on the other side the town ditch, so that the stench hath infected me with sundry diseases—during which time I have been sick; and the doors, bars, and chains being closed, and made fast upon me, I have mourned and cried for help … neither is there suffered any to come at me whereby I might have relief. But I commit my cause to God, whose will be done, whether it be by life or death.”
Hooper soon fulfilled that commitment. While being burned at the stake, his voice joined those of the assembled crowd praying, “Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done. …” (kjv).
Here is a true message: If we died with Christ, we will live with him. If we don’t give up, we will rule with him. If we deny that we know him, he will deny that he knows us. If we are not faithful, he will still be faithful. Christ cannot deny who he is. (2 Timothy 2:11-13)
Robert J. Morgan, On This Day : 265 Amazing and Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs & Heroes, electronic ed. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2000, c1997). Jan. 7.