Can you imagine a world without Shakespeare?
No Romeo and Juliet, no Macbeth, no Hamlet, no King Lear, no Othello, no Henry IV, no Midsummer Night’s Dream. This does not even include the other 38 plays or 154 sonnets attributed to the greatest writer of the English language? The fact is, these literary masterpieces of Shakespeare nearly perished with him, were it not for two of his devoted friends.
Like so many other artists and literary geniuses, William Shakespeare was never fully appreciated in his own lifetime. It took subsequent generations to grasp the stellar quality of his work. But those generations would never have ever heard the name Shakespeare were it not for two men, John Heminge and Henry Condell.
God sees everything and he will reward us for our faithfulness to him
John and Henry had been actors under Shakespeare’s direction and sometimes alongside – for Shakespeare acted as well. After Shakespeare’s death in 1616, they wanted to keep his memory alive and share his plays with the rest of the world. So for seven years Heminge and Condell rooted through theaters to search for copies of Shakespeare’s plays.
Fortunately, as actors they themselves had memorized the lines of most of his plays. From their memories and from what they recovered in the dusty cabinets of theaters, John Heminge and Henry Condell compiled and published Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies in 1623. Though they have since been forgotten, they succeeded in their mission: “to keep the memory of so worthy a Friend & Fellow alive, as was our Shakespeare.”
In a way, these two unsung heroes had a share in all the subsequent success and acclaim that was lavished upon Shakespeare. Indeed, all those who serve in a support role and who work behind the scenes to ensure the success of others share in that success.
A famous clergyman was traveling from New York City to Los Angeles on a certain Veterans Day. At John F. Kennedy Airport a veteran approached him, soliciting donations in exchange for a poppy. But the man was late for his plane and had to dash to the gate: “I’m so sorry,” he told the veteran, “I have to run to catch a plane”. The pastor also had to catch connecting flights in Chicago and Denver, and in both places was also approached by veterans selling poppies for a donation.
In his haste, the pastor had to turn them down, feeling increasingly guilty. When the pastor finally reached LA, his first act (even before picking up his baggage) was to hunt down a veteran, give a hefty donation, and get a poppy, which he proudly placed on the lapel of his jacket.
To his audience that night at a religious gathering, the pastor shared his experience and then asked the question: “Who sold me the poppy?” His answer: they had all sold him the poppy, though only the last veteran, who did the least but made the sale, got the credit.
Even so, there are many unsung heroes out there – unseen by people, but known by God – who are always supporting the success of others. But the success of those they support is their success as well. They may feel like the farmer who faithfully tills the soil, plants the seed, and nurtures the growth only to see someone else reap the harvest and receive the credit.
But God sees everything and he will reward us for our faithfulness to him. “Your heavenly Father who sees in secret, will reward you openly,” (Matthew 6:4, 6, 18).
Dear Father in heaven, I thank you that you see the small and humble deeds that are done in secret. Help me to be faithful in the tasks you have given me.
And even if I never enjoy the limelight, may I be content to make my contribution to the cause of justice, freedom and truth, that my life may be spent in a worthy endeavor. Grant that, when I stand before your throne, you will be pleased with my life and accept me into your heavenly kingdom. Amen.