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I shared this quotation once before, but I came across it again while working on a recent sermon.  This is a portion of the letter Guido de Bres, the author of the Belgic Confession, wrote to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Black Hole of Brunain for his Protestant faith.

My dear and well-beloved wife in our Lord Jesus, Your grief and anguish are the cause of my writing you this letter.  I most earnestly pray you not to be grieved beyond measure…We knew when we married that we might not have many years together, and the Lord has graciously given us seven.  If the Lord had wished us to live together longer, he could easily have cause it to be so.  But such was not his pleasure.  Let his good will be done….Moreover, consider that I have not fallen into the hands of my enemies by chance, but by the providence of God….All these considerations have made my heart glad and peaceful, and I pray you, my dear and faithful companion, to be glad with me, and to thank the good God for what he is going, for he does nothing but what is altogether good and right…I pray you then to be comforted in the Lord, to commit yourself and your affairs to him, he is the husband of the widow and the father of the fatherless, and he will never leave you nor forsake you.

On May 31, 1567, Guido de Bres, 47 years old, was publicly hanged in the market square of Valenciennes.  He was pushed off the scaffold as he exhorted the crowd to be faithful to Scripture  and respectful to the magistrates.  His body was buried in a shallow grave where it was later dug up and torn apart by wild animals.

I thank God for de Bres’ example of courage and steadfastness.  Here is another man “of whom the world was not worthy” (Heb. 11:38).  I’m thankful too for the Belgic Confession.  And whenever I read this heartwrenching and inspiring letter, I’m thankful he wrote to his wife in prison.

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13 thoughts on “How The Doctrine of Providence Can Help You Die Well, Serve Courageously, and Care for Your Wife”

  1. For anyone who may be interested, I have the full text of the letter available online here (A Reformation Martyr Comforts His Wife) along with an eyewitness account of de Bres’ martyrdom (The Martyrdom of Guido de Bres):

  2. Zac Hicks says:

    Powerful! Thank you! It’s ironic that the doctrine of providence is so discomforting to so many, when, in instances like this, it really does show itself to be “our only comfort in life and death.”


  3. luke williams says:

    Just Brilliant

  4. Truth Unites... and Divides says:

    Dear Wes,

    Thanks for the link to your archives. A treasure trove!

  5. Paul says:

    “I have not fallen into the hands of my enemies by chance, but by the providence of God.”

    Oh that we/I/you/us/everyone would get this DURING our trouble and travail, not in hindsight only!

  6. Scott Buchanan says:

    Wow, that’s powerful. It’s especially so for someone looking at going into a ministry that is potentially life-threatening. Thanks for posting it!

  7. Paul says:

    I’m no Dutch scholar, but does “moeder” translate as “wife” or “mother”?

  8. Paul,

    That is an excerpt from de Bres’ letter to his mother. The full text of that letter (translated) was recently published in Clarion in the October 9 and 23 issues. I’ll make it also available on my website today: (look under articles)

  9. Kevin, thanks for disseminating this quote! I’ve included a portion of it in an upcoming illustrated children’s book on Guido. Interested readers can learn more about the progress of the book at

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Kevin DeYoung

Kevin DeYoung is the senior pastor at Christ Covenant Church in Matthews, North Carolina. He is chairman of the board of The Gospel Coalition, assistant professor of systematic theology at Reformed Theological Seminary (Charlotte), and a PhD candidate at the University of Leicester. Kevin and his wife, Trisha, have seven children. You can follow him on Twitter.

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