Letters to the Netherlands: Before the throne of grace …

In a previous excerpt from our 2nd great-grandfather’s letters from his new home in Iowa, he spoke of his distress over the illness of his adult daughter, who had remained in the Netherlands. He would later learn that she did not survive. Her children, then orphaned, seem to have been taken in by relatives or friends. His letters to the Netherlands indicate that he prayed for his daughter’s spiritual well being, then found joy in learning that she had not died unconverted. I’ve chosen not to share some of the more immediate personal excerpts, but the collection of brief excerpts below (as translated from Dutch) followed some time after the death of his daughter:

“I called upon God to be merciful to her… I was confirmed in the belief that the Lord is a hearer of prayer. I was privileged to pray for her continually after we had left for America, for her and for her children, before the throne of grace.

“The saying says ‘blood creeps where  it cannot walk’  – and it is also true that at such a distance the tie becomes stronger. And when the Lord himself places the prayer in the heart, the poet says, ‘he has never turned prayer aside.’ Experience has often taught me that lesson – and the Lord teaches that to all people in distress by His grace…  It is wonderful for parents to see their children depart that way, or children their parents. There God will wipe all tears from their eyes – there will be no more weeping, but peace alone will reign…

“Oh, my heart still breaks as I write – May the death of our Janna be for all those living at and around the mill, and also for us, a means of drawing us closer to God… that is my hearty wish and prayer …”

March 1890

These letters are part of a larger collection of Dutch immigrant letters in the archives of the Christian Reformed Church at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I am occasionally posting very brief excerpts in no particular order.

See other posts in this series: Letters to the Netherlands

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4 Responses to Letters to the Netherlands: Before the throne of grace …

  1. Jana Last says:

    Oh! This is so tragic! But I love the faith that your 2nd great-grandfather showed in the face of such trials. Do you know whatever happened to those orphaned children? And why were they orphaned? What happened to their father?

    • ljhlaura says:

      Jana … thanks much for your kind words. I’d like to explore the answers to those questions myself. I believe their father had already died, but one day when I have a little more time, I hope to explore more information about this family.

  2. Nice post! I don’t have any letters, but I do have a death announcement edged in black sent to the relatives in Kent Co, MI from the Netherlands when my great-great grandfather’s sister passed away in 1949. My great-great grandparents had left for the US on their honeymoon in 1906. They did finally take a return trip in the 1950s. The sister’s death may have been one of the inspirations for doing so. They were Dutch Reformed as well.

    • ljhlaura says:

      It is interesting that your great-great grandparents returned to the Netherlands the year after his sister’s death. You may be right that there is a connection, as according to that Dutch expression I’ve learned … “blood creeps where it cannot walk.” Thanks for your kind words, for sharing your story, and for stopping by …

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