This letter was written in February, 1920 by Pastor C. O. Granlund of the Lutheran Church in Ceresco. The envelope has a note, probably made by Clara, that says “From Granlund when we were quarantined with Smallpox.”
Sometime during 1919, P.W. “Will” had been diagnosed with a cancer that first developed on his tongue and later spread to his throat. To have the family stricken with smallpox a year later must have felt like a cruel blow. As far as I know, everyone fully recovered from their smallpox infections. Will, however, died from his cancer a little less than five months after this letter was written.
This is an impressive hand-written two page letter full of comforting thoughts and advice from their Pastor.
Here is the text of the letter:
Evang. Lutheran Immanuel Church
Sunday, Febr. 1, 1920
“Immanuel = God with us”!
Dear Friends in Christ,
“Wait for Jehovah. Be strong and let thy heart take courage; Yea, wait thou for Jehovah.” Ps. 27:14.
These words are more easily spoken than done. It is easy to say we should take courage, be strong; but it is another thing to really, in the face of hardships that seem unbearable, to do it. And yet, dear friends, it is possible, by God’s grace, to take courage and be strong because the same verse begins and ends with “Wait for Jehovah – wait thou for Jehovah.” There is something more declared in this little verse that you should in spite of all your troubles, take courage and be strong. There is something declared there that helps us to take courage and be strong, and that is the comforting assurance that Jehovah, your God, has not left you – although it may seem sometimes that He hides His face from you. Ah no, He is working in and through your very troubles and hardships – He is accomplishing His own good purposes. You do not see it now – you are surrounded by sickness and discouragements – but even though you do not see it or can not fully realize it, God is looking to you in grace and mercy, therefore ‘wait for Jehovah.’ You will see by and by that He has only one purpose with it all: your eternal welfare.
Do you not feel already how much courage and strength this Word of God gives you? How comforting and really strengthening it is to be reminded from God’s Word that God is working out His plans with us and desires that we in patient trust and faithful praying wait for Him to make plain His good will!
But how shall we really be sure God is going to work everything for our best? How shall we be sure of the good outcome of all our hardships and troubles? Because God’s Word tells us so, certainly that, “All things work together for good to them that love God” Rom. 8:28. You love God, dear friends, you love Him in your blessed Savior Jesus Christ, I know. Do not fear, do not be troubled. God’s Word says that, “all things work together for good to them that love God.” Trust God and wait in patience his good to you from your present troubles.
How are going to keep trusting while waiting? God tells you what you are to do while you wait in order to keep trusting. He says in Ps. 91:15 “He shall call upon me and I will answer him. I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him.” Keep praying, dear friends. We are praying with you and for you. God hears prayer. He has heard our prayers before. He will continue to hear them now and answer them. Just as sure as He is the God who has saved us in Christ Jesus so sure is He also the God that will answer our prayers.
In all your praying learn to pray most of all “Thy will be done.” It is a hard prayer for our sinful flesh to pray. We always wish to demand of God that our will should be His will with us. That isn’t always the best which we think the best. God knows best. Wait then for Jehovah and keep our praying: Thy will be done. Remember, God’s will is always our eternal welfare. Our will is most often our temporal welfare. God’s will seeks to save us fainlly home unto Himself and that is the will we desire after all to be fulfilled. All other matters will be rightly taken care of also by God if He can first of all safely bring us into a firm and true faith in Christ Jesus in whom we have eternal life. Pray and trust God that His will may be done.
Let me now assure you that your pastor is praying earnestly for you. I long to come to you and bring you the comforting strength of God’s word. I shall see what the doctor says and perhaps will come to you in a day or so. But Jesus you best friend and pastor is praying also for you. He is so vitally interested in you and your soul’s welfare, far beyond what any earthly pastor with deepest love can feel for you. He wishes to be and every day is, in your very midst. Nothing can shut Him out. Talk with Him in prayer and listen to Him in His Word daily. He loves you and can help you as none other friend can do.
God be with and bless and strengthen you in Christ
Sincere sympathetic greeting from Mrs. Granlund as well.