A CLOSING TESTIMONY
IN confirmation of what I have before said that God, when His time has come, can and often does grant miraculous healing, I would subjoin the following experience out of our family life
In the year 1908, our family consisted of Mrs. Frost, seven children and myself. We lived in Germantown, Philadelphia, in the Home of the China Inland Mission, at 235 School Lane. God had richly favoured us as a family, our children, with us, being Christians and all of us having the best of health. Separately and unitedly our hearts were full of thanksgiving to Him, for we were enjoying His daily blessing in all things.
In the early part of August of that year, the members of the family were somewhat separated from one another. The two older boys, the three girls and I were at Attica, in western New York, and our next to the youngest son was visiting friends nearer home. This left Mrs. Frost and our youngest child alone at Germantown. I had gone away to obtain change and rest, for the heavy work of the Mission and the excessive summer heat at Germantown had brought me into a low physical condition and there was need of recuperation.
In spite of our separation and my indisposition, our family affairs were going on smoothly and happily enough. This remained true until we reached the middle of the month. Then on the 18th, a sad calamity befell us. Our youngest child F., a boy of five years, met with a severe accident. He was playing in the dining-room of the Germantown Home, passed through a swinging door into the adjoining butler’s pantry, climbed up a number of shelves of the china pantry to get a cup on the top shelf, lost his hold as he reached for it, pitched backward, fell down about seven feet and struck the back and right side of his head on the hard, wooden floor below. The maid, at the time, was setting the table in the dining-room for luncheon. She heard the fall, ran into the pantry, found the boy lying unconscious, picked him up, carried him upstairs and laid him in his mother’s arms, he having revived as he was borne up the stairs. Mrs. Frost laid him on the bed of a back bedroom and telephoned for Dr. R., our Christian physician. This friend was away from home, as was the case with other physicians whom she called. Dr. R. returned after four days, found F. in fair condition—though he had been very sick—advised quiet and rest, and expressed the conviction that all would be well.
Mrs. Frost sent the above report to me at Attica. It was, of course, a startling tale and my instinct was to return at once to Germantown. But Dr. Ellinwood, Mrs. Frost’s father, in whose medical care I was, practically forbade my going back to the heat of that place in the physical state in which I was, and besides, Mrs. Frost soon assured me that I was to have no anxiety concerning F. I stayed on, therefore, at Attica, and Mrs. Frost had the care of her child. I came to know afterwards that she finally, not wishing to call me home, held back from me the news that certain serious symptoms had developed. The result was that I remained away two weeks longer. Dr. R. then, as F.’s condition had become serious, insisted upon her telegraphing for me. I started at once for Germantown, arriving there on September 5th. I found on arrival that our child could take little food, was having chills, was running high temperatures, had to be kept, for the most part, in a deeply darkened room, and was suffering from severe pain in the head, which generally lasted, with short intervals between, as long as ten hours. It was evident that Dr. R. was not only much concerned, but also greatly perplexed. He thought that F. was suffering from meningitis. But there were complications which he did not understand.
Matters having reached this crisis, Dr. R. told us that he had decided to call in for consultation Dr. B. and Dr. S., who were two of Philadelphia’s most notable physicians. Dr. S. came once and Dr. B twice, and they and Dr. R. spent hours examining F., in the endeavour to discover what special form of disease was afflicting him. After the second examination by Dr. R. and Dr. B. they asked to see me privately. Dr. B. then spoke as follows:
“Mr. Frost, Dr. R. and I are agreed that F. is suffering from meningitis. We have also concluded that it is probable that an abscess on the brain has formed, beneath the place where he struck. We have concluded, therefore, to advise an operation being performed, namely, trephining the skull. It is for you to decide whether or not this shall be done.”
I felt, before I could reach a conclusion, that I needed information, and so I said:
“Dr. B., what chance is there of F. getting well as he is now?”
Dr. B. replied, “None whatever.”
“What,” I exclaimed, “is the boy dying?”
“Well,” said the doctor, “he may last some days; but be will not recover.”
“Then,” said I, “what chance is there of his getting well if an operation is performed?”
The doctor thought a moment or two and then answered, “I am, of course, not sure, but I should say about one in ten.”
This word was staggering. No chance as F. was, and only one in ten if he were to be operated on! What should I decide? I silently thought and prayed. At last I said,
“Thank you, Dr. B., for your frankness; I’ll take the one chance in ten.”
The interview with the physicians had taken place on Saturday morning, September 19th, and on the evening of that day we took F. in a comfortable carriage to the Germantown Hospital. There I left him, Mrs. Frost remaining with him, with the understanding that he would be operated on by Dr. S. the next noon. Dr. R. and Dr. B. promised to be present.
Our two older boys had returned to Germantown and they accompanied me, the next morning, to the Hospital. Both boys were a comfort to us. This was particularly true of our second son, who, at the time, was studying medicine. He was a comfort to F. also, and, when the time for the operation came, carried the little fellow from the private room, down the long corridor, into the operating room, where he left him with the three doctors and the nurses. The operation began at 12 and ended at 12.50. Following this, Dr. R. and Dr. B. came to the outside veranda, where Mrs. Frost, the two boys and I were waiting, with the kind purpose of reporting to us the result. Dr. R. took the lead in speaking. He said,
“Mr. Frost, the operation is over and it has been successful; but we have found no abscess and we are just where we were before.”
I did then, in the strain of the moment, an impetuous and somewhat rude thing. I exclaimed,
“Thank God! Now we know exactly where we are; it is God or no one!”
“Yes,” said good Dr. R., “you are quite right; it is God or no one.”
F. was taken back to his room. We later saw him there, his eyes closed, his face ashy white and his head enveloped with a bandage which left to view only the oval of his face. It was a pathetic sight, and also a hopeless one.
Following this, there began a long fight for life. The boy could take no solid food, or, if he did, could not retain it, and thus what little strength and flesh were left were wasting away. The burden of nursing fell on Mrs. Frost, for F. cried piteously for her if she left his side. One day his mother said to him,
“F., isn’t there anything you would like to eat?”
“Yes,” the boy feebly answered, “corn flakes.”
I turned to the house doctor standing by and asked, “Shall we try them?”
The doctor did not reply, but simply shrugged his shoulders, meaning, “You can try them if you will, but they will do no good.” We did try them, and to our surprise the lad enjoyed the food and, retained it. This led to some improvement and gave us slight hope, and, on October 3rd, it was possible for the Hospital ambulance to take us, with our dear boy, to our home on School Lane. We had been greatly touched, during the long sickness, by the sympathy which had been expressed by persons who knew or did not know us, the whole community being moved by our son’s sufferings. Among those who inquired were many physicians in Philadelphia who, largely because of professional interest in the case, telephoned to ask how the boy was. We were specially touched, about this time, to learn that, on the Sunday morning of the operation, F. had been publicly prayed for in six of the Germantown churches. So our son was laid in his bed at home, and we resumed our anxious watch at his side.
The days which followed were terrible ones. Formerly, the chills, fever and headache had occurred every day. Now, they occurred every other day. But the temperature would rise as high as 103 degrees, and once it stood at 105. [The physicians found that it was not a case of malasia.] This meant that the severity of the attacks had greatly increased. When they came on, F. would soon be in paroxysms of pain, crying out over and over again, “Oh mother, my head hurts, my head hurts!” At such times, all that Dr. R. could do was to give him opiates; all that the mother could do was to keep cold compresses upon the aching head and hold the fevered hand; and all that I could do was to take my turn in watching or stand aside and pray. A hundred, a thousand times, now that the doctors had failed and a spirit of hopelessness was prevailing, we pleaded with God to come to our help and heal. But no answer was given. The poor boy grew steadily worse and he seemed doomed to die. One Sunday about the middle of November F. seemed a little better. It was an off day when the fever was not likely to recur, so Mrs., Frost dressed her boy and carried him out to the sitting-room that he might have a change of environment. Then, as Mrs. Frost and I had not been at church for many weeks, we ventured out to the morning service at Westside Church, which was only a block and a half away. As we had left our son in the care of his eldest brother, who by his tender ways had a wonderfully soothing that all would be well. But as we were returning along School Lane we heard the dreaded cries. We ran into the house and up the stairs and there we found F. undressed and back in bed and in a terrible spasm of pain. Thereupon Mrs. Frost took her place at her child’s side, and for eighteen long dreadful hours we watched over that pain-racked form. At last, at six o’clock in the morning, the poor lad, from sheer exhaustion, fell into a deep sleep. We ourselves then lay down on our bed, and we too fell asleep. We slept till about nine o’clock, when we rose and dressed. Later, our son wakened and wanted to get up. Mrs. Frost dressed him and took him into the sitting-room.
It was now four months since F. had received his injury. As many as twelve physicians had seen him, and all, including the specialists, had confessed that the disease was beyond their understanding and power to heal. This had led to much prayer on the part of our friends and ourselves. Many of our friends were praying earnestly that God Himself would heal our son; but all of these were left in a state of doubt. Mrs. Frost and I renewed our prayers for divine interposition; but we received no assurance that God would heal. As I look back on those days and call to remembrance our spiritual experiences, I can bear witness to the fact that we did not once doubt God’s love and compassion and His ability to give miraculous healing. At the same time, I have to confess that mentally and physically we were utterly exhausted. This last was the case even with courageous Mrs. Frost, for she had been seriously strained by long watching at the sick bed. She had been awake night after night. Also, she had sat beside our son, stroking his head or holding his hand, through many a long, weary day, and this in a darkened room, where the outer shutters were closed and the inner shades drawn, since the least ray of light pierced the boy’s eyes and brain as red-hot needles might have done. And here, at the end of these months, there was no improvement and the doctors had, as It were, been forced to abandon our son and ourselves. Our state, therefore, was one of helplessness and it bordered on hopelessness. It was Just then a wonderful thing took Mrs. Frost on the day to which we had come had hope of a short respite, for, the temperature having risen the day before, she concluded, according to the remittent form of the disease, that it would not rise on that day. But at eleven o’clock in the morning she saw that F. was in one of his preliminary chills, that his face was white and drawn and that the fever was beginning to recur. This was almost beyond my wife’s physical .endurance. She stood, therefore, looking at her boy in a sort of daze. Suddenly, a divine impulse seized her. She took F. by the hand, said to him, “Come with me,” led him to her darkened bedroom, closed the door, knelt with her beloved child beside the bed and cried,
“O dear Father in heaven, I can never go through this again! Please don’t let him ever have another headache!”
And he never did. The sovereign and compassionate Lord, having brought us to an end of all human resources, had, at last, chosen to heal. Instantly, the chills, fever and headache passed away. From thence onward, he was able to take and retain food in a perfectly normal way. He put on flesh and weight and increased in strength. He was dressed day by day and was soon playing indoors and out as a well child might do. From that time to this there has never been a suspicion of his old trouble. In 1922, when he was nineteen years of age, he was a freshman at Princeton University, at which time he was examined by the Physical Director of the University and rated as in class A, which meant that he was in excellent physical condition. In the next years, he was a member of the tennis squad and one of the pitchers on the Varsity baseball nine. He is now in business, alert in mind, vigorous in action and physically fit and strong. In other words, his recovery bore all of the marks of a New Testament healing, that is, it was instantaneous, complete and permanent. It was, therefore, miraculous. When I next saw Dr. R., I told him of F.’s recovery, and added,
“I guess, doctor, we may conclude that God did it.”
“Yes,” replied the Christian doctor, “there is no doubt of it; God did it!”
And all the community at Germantown agreed with us, for those who were Christians and those who were not were constrained to acknowledge that a great and notable miracle had been wrought in their midst.
Our son’s healing demonstrates the fact that God’s choices are wisest, His times best, His ways perfect and His love and compassion infinite. Also, it proclaims the fact that Jesus Christ is the living Son of God and that He still has power on earth, not only to forgive sin, but also to heal disease. I would state it then, as my closing testimony in this book, that it is my conviction that God will readily answer our prayers for bodily healing; and I would add that it also is my conviction that if He defers answering or gives no answer at all, it is not because He does not love or care or desire to heal, but only because He has some better thing in store for us which time or eternity will reveal. Thus I would affirm that I am ever increasingly persuaded that, whether in health or sickness, life or death, we may trust our heavenly Father with an utter abandonment of confidence, being assured of the fact that—
“They who trust Him wholly