I HAVE JUST COME from the funeral of one of our granddaughters whom Mrs. Armstrong and I loved very much. This particular granddaughter was very special to us, because of circumstances under which she was born, which resulted in a partial handicap through life. I always called her my "Princess." Her name was Carole Ann Mattson. At birth she weighed only three pounds and five ounces — which dropped to an even three pounds before she began to add weight. She could not have survived had she not been kept in an incubator for seven-and-a-half weeks. A chain of providential circumstances climaxed in her birth. Our elder daughter, Beverly (Mrs. James A. Gott), had become pregnant with her third child some weeks after Carole's mother had conceived Carole. During Beverly's pregnancy a complication arose. She finally consented to an X-ray examination, and two doctors saw and reported the existence of an internal cyst, or nonmalignant tumor. In obedience to the New Testament teaching of James 5:14-15, Mark 6:13, Luke 9:2 and 10:9, etc., etc., I had anointed her and asked God to remove this growth. But it was not immediately removed. Rather, it grew. The doctor, who was supervising her pregnancy, finally told her she would have to undergo an operation for its removal. The fetus was growing, and the cyst was enlarging and bringing increasing pressure against the baby's head. Beverly came to our home frightened and crying. What should she do? The doctor had said that to delay the operation might prove fatal to the unborn child. He assured her the operation would be a simple one, with no real danger. But she feared being cut open with knives. At the time, Mrs. Armstrong and I were ready to leave home on a trip. I reminded Beverly that Jesus had said regarding healing from God, "According to your faith, be it unto you." (Matt. 9:29). I advised her to rely on whichever method she had the most faith. If she had more faith in the doctor and in surgery than in God and His written promises, then undergo the operation without delay. But, seeing her faith in God was wavering, I advised her that she should not reject the surgery unless she would immediately devote at least one or two days to nothing but fasting and praying, asking God for unwavering faith. God had promised to heal. She had been anointed. I had claimed God's promise in prayer. If she could really BELIEVE God would do as He had promised, the growth would disappear. Mrs. Armstrong and I left on our trip, not knowing what decision our daughter would make. But we received no word of undergoing surgery, and assumed she had determined to trust God. It was some little time after we returned that our younger daughter, and her husband stopped at our home. They were on the way to the hospital for the delivery of their first child. There was some complication, the nature of which I do not remember, that caused the doctor considerable concern for Dorothy's life, during delivery. She, too, had been anointed for the healing of whatever the complication was. But she needed faith. Just as they were going out the door, Beverly drove up, and came running excitedly saying, "I've just come from the doctor's office, and I'm HEALED! They took another X-ray, and the cyst is GONE! The doctors are flabbergasted! It's just disappeared!" This experience came at the psychological instant to give our younger daughter the faith she needed for a safe delivery of her baby. During delivery, she hemorrhaged. The baby was in such condition the doctor did not expect it to live. He needed to devote his entire attention to stopping the hemorrhaging. He didn't even slap the baby's back to make her breathe. Instead, believing the infant could not live unless by divine providence, he prayed asking God to decide, and cause the infant to breathe if He wanted her to live. At that instant the tiny three-pound bundle of humanity uttered a feeble cry, and began breathing. She was washed and put in an incubator. Nevertheless, there were internal complications which prevented taking on weight — although she grew normally in height — and there was a basic heart condition which gradually produced enlargement of the heart. Carole never was privileged to live a completely normal life, and her parents knew, as far back as six years ago, that she probably would never reach her eighteenth birthday. Some may ask, could not God have healed her of this growing condition, and have given her a normal and lengthy life. Of course. But many do not understand that God does lay down certain terms and conditions which He requires of us! During the past thirty-nine years I have been called on to pray for the healing of many hundreds of people. Many, many, have believed and been healed — many by astonishing miracles. Yet a great many others have not. WHY? I have prayed as earnestly and with as much faith for those not healed, as for those who were. The answer is obvious. When a woman touched Jesus' robe and was healed, He did not tell her that His faith healed her. Rather, He said (Luke 8:48), "Daughter, THY faith bath made thee whole." King Asa of ancient Judah started his reign trusting in God (II Chron. 14:1-2). God heard, and answered his prayers (verses 11-12). But, later in life, he began to rely on other kings instead of on God (II Chron. 16:7). In the 39th year of his reign, King Asa "was diseased in his feet, until his disease was exceeding great: yet in his disease he sought not to the Eternal, but to the physicians. And Asa slept with his fathers, and died..." (verses 12-13). But my little "Princess" lived long enough to build a beautiful character. She set a splendid example for her younger sister and brother. She had a good, sound and sensible mind. She acquired a splendid attitude — a right spirit — that survives death, and will still be hers in the resurrection. She lived to be seventeen and a half. But, "as in Adam all die, so in Christ shall ALL be made alive" (I Cor. 15:22) — the SAME ALL who die. In the very next second of her consciousness, Carole will awaken in a resurrection. There is just ONE THING we can take with us when we die — a RIGHTEOUS CHARACTER! Any money we accumulate, property, material goods — all these we must leave behind. There's the old saying, "You can't take it with you." But you can take with you a right CHARACTER if you build one — and, after all, that is the VERY PURPOSE of this life. A beautiful and fine CHARACTER is worth more than all the money in the world. That is "the TRUE riches." A girl like Carole has not lived in vain — and she shall live again! I said she set a splendid example for her younger sister and brother. I think she did much more. In a letter she wrote to her Daddy and Mom, as she called them, she set a splendid example for thousands of children of those who will read this column, for I'm going to reprint that letter here. It was dated September 1, 1965. She was sixteen and a half. She had been reprimanded for being cross and "bossy" with the younger children. The offense was not as serious as her letter indicates, but the important thing is that she took it seriously when it was called to her attention. How many of you "teenagers" who read this column would write such a letter?
Here is her letter:
September 1, 1965 Dearest Mom and Daddy, Not before today did I really know how I have treated you both. I am very ashamed of myself, and I don't expect you to forgive me for all the years I have caused you needless pain. It seems to me now that I have totally wasted your time. Well, I'm going to try to make up for it all. I feel very terrible and I wish I could live over those lost years you spent trying to teach me some good behavior. From now on I'm going to act my age and help out as much as I can. I'm not going to quarrel with the kids and I will remember what you have always said to me, "If a thing is worth doing, it's worth doing right." From now on I will also be neat and clean and wipe out my bossiness towards others. Maybe someday, and soon I hope, you will be proud of me, as you have been at times, when I was good. My grades in school will go up this year too, and my new school clothes, as well as my old ones, will stay neat and where they belong. I truly hope you can see an improvement in me soon. I think you are both the most wonderful and understanding parents any child ever could have. I love you and I'll prove it!
Love, your daughter, Carole
And Carole did PROVE IT! I have always been astonished at her sensible and understanding mind. I think you can understand why Mrs. Armstrong and I, as well as her parents and brother and sister, loved her. There is a big empty spot in the Mattson home now. The "Princess" is no longer there. But, though of course we grieve, we "sorrow not, AS others which have no hope" (I Thess. 4:13-18). We're grateful for the life she had — we look forward in anticipation. We shall see her again!