The letter was written by Lady Jane Grey, the “9-days Queen”, just before she was put to death at about 17 years of age. One of the most well educated people of her time and a devout Protestant, she took no interest in the common pursuits of the young people of her day. She had her “affection on things above, not on things of the earth” Col. 3:2. She was one of the only true friends of the beloved King Edward VI, and as he was dying at the age of 16, hasty alterations were made to the law of succession so that she could become queen after his death. The crown would have otherwise devolved to Edward’s half-sister Mary Tudor, whose bitterness toward Protestants was a huge concern of Edward’s. The decision to transfer the kingdom to Jane Grey was also motivated by the self-interest of power-seeking individuals, and viewed as a rebellion. Lady Jane, whose eyes were on the unseen Kingdom, was shocked and very reluctant to accept, doing so only after much urging. As power shifted to Mary Tudor, those who had been following Edward’s plan (and Dudley’s!) began to surrender. The new queen Mary had no personal hatred toward Jane and her life was secure until Wyatt’s uprising forced queen Mary to do away with anyone who could supply a basis for opposition. Mary’s resolution to execute Lady Jane came as no surprise to her, and also as no concern. She wrote to her sister Catherine, “And as touching my death, rejoice as I do, good sister, that I shall be delivered of this corruption and put on incorruption. For I am assured that I shall, for losing of a mortal life, win an immortal life, the which I pray God grant you, and send you of his grace to live in his fear, and to die in the true Christian faith, from the which, in God’s name, I exhort you that you never swerve, neither for hope of life nor for fear of death.” John Feckenham was sent to try to persuade her to become Catholic, and their debates were a great delight to Jane. Feckenham was astonished at her calm behavior, great knowledge, and sense of religion. She was beheaded on February 12, 1554. According to John Foxe (1517-1587), Judge Morgan who pronounced her sentence was so affected by her death that he went mad. Queen Mary was also troubled.
While Bloody Queen Mary suffered both the trouble of ruling the kingdom and the agony of both bitterness and guilt, Lady Jane Gray was living in the splendor of eternal life in the kingdom of God and in the presence of her “Saviour Christ”. “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal” 2 Cor. 4:17-18. Remember, “If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him: if we deny Him, He also will deny us” 2 Tim. 2:12