On Sunday, October 19, 1777, General Washington wrote a letter to Major-General Israel Putnam, recalling the recent victory at Saratoga and offering his condolences occasioned by the death of his wife:
“The defeat of General Burgoyne is a most important event, and such as must afford the highest satisfaction to every well-affected American. Should Providence be pleased to crown our arms in the course of the campaign with one more fortunate stroke, I think we shall have no great cause for anxiety respecting the future designs of Britain. I trust all will be well in His good time….
“I am exceedingly sorry for the death of Mrs. Putman, and sympathize with you upon the occasion. Remembering that all must die [Hebrews 9:27], and that she had lived to an honorable age, I hope you will bear the misfortune with that fortitude and complacency of mind that become a man and a Christian.”*
George Washington’s hope in God’s Providence and his encouragement to see death through the eyes of faith are another lost episode in American history.
Read and Reflect: Read Hebrews 9:27 and reflect on the fact that we are all mortal, that we will all die, and we will all face God in the judgment.
Prayer: Sovereign God, we tremble at the thought of standing before you in the judgment but take great comfort in the fact that Jesus is our Advocate and that His blood has appeased your wrath toward our sin. Yet we realize that our works will be judged, good and bad. Help us to so live that we bring honor to Christ, in whose name we pray, Amen.
*Source Citation: Jared Sparks, ed., The Writings of George Washington; Being His Correspondence, Addresses, Messages, and Other Papers, Official and Private, Selected and Published from the Original Manuscripts, 12 vols., (Boston: American Stationer’s Company, 1837), 5:104-05. Bracketed item added.