A letter from Joseph Willis to his grandson Daniel Hubbard Willis
December 28, 1853
“My Dearest Grandson Dan,
I received your letter. Concerning your question, “How can a loving God allow deadly diseases like cholera, smallpox, malaria, and yellow fever in Louisiana? Yellow fever killed my best friend.”
“Let me begin by apologizing in sackcloth and ashes for asking you a question first. If you had a cure for yellow fever would you have given it to your friend? Of course, you would have!
“I read in the Alexandria Town Talk, 1 in 15 have died in New Orleans this summer. Over 12,000 people dead from yellow fever in New Orleans alone since January, with still more deaths in rural areas like ours.
“People are dying faster than graves can be dug. ‘Pretty soon people will have to dig their graves,’ the paper said.
“Would you have given a cure to them? There is no need to answer for I know your heart. You would have given the treatment to every man, woman and child in Louisiana and in fact the entire earth. You would have given your life for such a great cause. How glorious it would be to provide forty additional years to a middle aged man, perhaps a hundred years to a child.
What a great cause this would be. More significant than any political cause, for what can be more wonderful than the gift of life?
“Yet, there is a greater cause—an even more excellent gift than a cure for yellow fever. It does not give only an additional hundred years but eternal life. You and I have this good news. How can we not share the gift of eternal life?
“Over the last eight decades, I have received many prayer requests for physical healing, and I have never refused. My twin daughters died of honey poisoning after I prayed for days. My beloved wife died in childbirth. Do not misunderstand me; there is nothing wrong with praying for the sick. But, after their deaths, I realized I was spending more time keeping the saints out of heaven than saving the lost from hell.
“God did not answer my prayer in the way I requested, but I will be with Him and my daughters and my bride forever in heaven. The greatest tragedy is being eternally separated from Christ, not to mention my daughters and wife.
“Nothing lies beyond the reach of prayer. I believe that God heals miraculously. Sometimes God heals naturally. Sometimes He heals instantaneously. Sometimes He heals in time. God uses doctors and beyond the doctor’s skills.
“But the ultimate healing is in Heaven where no disease can touch our new and perfect body. The greater miracle is not a hundred years of life free from illness, but everlasting life paid for with Christ’s blood—God’s lifeblood—given freely on a tree at Calvary.
“Let us tell our neighbors on our beloved Barber Creek. Let us declare this Good News in the piney woods of Rapides Parish. Let us travel our red-dirt roads to the Calcasieu and Red Rivers. And from the mighty Mississippi and Sabine Rivers to our enormous deltas and vast swamps. Let the Gospel of Jesus Christ ring forth from Driskill Mountain to the Gulf of Mexico. And let that only be the beginning!
Always, your loving Grandpa
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Destiny is a powerful epic with love stories, battles, testimonies, drama, politics, history, and even humor.
The sweeping family saga spans four centuries.
Inspired by true stories.
Available now at https://www.amazon.com/dp/1733567402
Drawing on his family heritage of explorers, settlers, soldiers, cowboys, and pastors, Randy carries on the tradition of loving the outdoors and sharing it in the adventures he creates for readers of his novels.
Randy Willis is the author of Destiny, Twice a Slave, Three Winds Blowing, Louisiana Wind, Beckoning Candle, The Apostle to the Opelousas, The Story of Joseph Willis, and many magazine and newspaper articles.
He is an American novelist, biographer, rancher, and music publisher.
“Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.” —C. S. Lewis