Monday, January 6, 2014

Dear God! Give Me the Courage to Do What I Must

I just finished a book called, "The Bloodletter's Daughter"--a work of fiction  based on a true story which took place in the early 1600s. Don Julius Hapsberg, the illegitimate son of Emperor Rudolf II had severe mental problems, but fell in love with a Bohemian bathmaid named Marketa Pichlerova. In the book, she is the daughter of a "barber-surgeon," a bloodletter, who is commissioned by the king/emperor to treat his son with leeches (I know, gross, right?), in hopes of curing his illness. Marketa assists her father, and Don Julius falls in love with her. She tries to reciprocate his love, but he ends up brutally raping and beating her and she falls to her assumed death (but really lands in the rubbish pile and is saved). Don Julius discovers that she is still alive and demands her to come to him. Otherwise, her whole family will be killed. She willingly goes, knowing that she will most likely be killed. Her father, who is now imprisoned, begs her not to, as do her few friends. But she realizes that if she continues to run and hide, Don Julius will only continue his obsession with her and stop at nothing to find her, including killing anyone and everyone in the village.

Now, I don't know how much of this is true and how much is creative license. However, I couldn't help but think of the bravery and sacrifice of this young woman, who was only about 16 years old. This bathmaid, who was thought of as a common whore, suddenly became the savior to her people. As she walked willingly to the castle, guards bowed to her, townspeople blessed her, and no one called her by her lewd nickname. They addressed her as Slecna Marketa, a sign of respect.

She knew that sooner or later, the madman would kill her, even though he professed his love for her, claiming that she alone could "calm the voices in his head." 

"Dear God! Give me the courage to do what I must," she whispered. 

I won't tell you what happened, in case you want to read the book. Warning: It is a tad dicey for the person who does not deviate from Christian reading, but if you can overlook that, it's a fantastic read. (Of course, I just gave away quite a bit of the ending...)

However, this is not a book review. Why did I tell you all of this? Because, as I'm sure you noticed, there is a parallel between Marketa and Jesus. They both sacrificed their own lives for the salvation of the rest of the village/world. Jesus was thought of as a commoner to many, as was Marketa, but as he walked willingly to his death, he did not receive the respect that Marketa did. He received only ridicule. Those who respected Him, most likely kept quiet, for fear of their own lives.

Marketa, as brave as she was, still feared. She had no idea what to expect from this madman.
Jesus, being fully God, knew what was to come. But being fully man, don't you think He feared? Didn't He pray in the Garden of Gethsemane and ask His Father to take this cup from me? Twice! My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death, He told Peter, James and John in Matthew 26:38. We typically focus on the part where they fell asleep and Jesus scolded them saying, Couldn't you men keep watch with me for one hour? 

Have you ever been so overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death? What must that feel like? Does it, perhaps feel like overwhelming fear? Do sorrow and fear share something? What was Jesus thinking in those last moments before his arrest? Perhaps He was sorrowful because of Judas' betrayal, which was to come any moment. I'm not sure. I'm not a theologian, so I don't have the answer to that question. But I imagine that Jesus felt a myriad of emotions in that garden. He was human, just like us, just like Marketa, walking willingly into the chamber of death. "Dear God! Give me the courage to do what I must." ...If it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet, not as I will, but as You will (Matt 26:39).

May we never lose our wonder, awe, and respect for our Savior, Jesus Christ, who went willingly to his death...for you and for me.

Blessings Along the Path,

Song of the Day:
Be Strong and Take Courage (Don Moen)
Book Summary and Review: The Bloodletter's Daughter (Linda Lafferty) summary & review

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