"And Took Joyfully the Spoiling of Your Possessions" (Heb. 10:34).
BEFORE I entered the hospital, I signed a slip at the post office requesting that all my mail be placed in my sister's box and that it not be sent to me at the hospital."Even There Shall Thy Hand Lead Me" (Ps. 139:10a)
On the ninth day after my operation, the nurse brought me a letter from my father in Texas, addressed to my husband in care of my sister's box. The nurse took the black velvet flaps off my eyes so that I could see the letter (my eyes had been so very weak that she had kept the flaps over them most of the time). After looking at the letter, I waited for my sister to come in to read it to me. She was so long in coming that I picked it up again and opened it. I thought I would just look at my father's handwriting and had no intention of attempting to read it. My eyes fell upon the first sentence, however, and this is what I read:
"David, your furniture burned in the storage house on July 19. Do not tell Lita. You will have to itemize every piece of your furniture and state the value in order to get the small insurance that Lita put on your library."
As I finished reading these sentences, the nurse came in with a large box of flowers from a friend in southern Indiana. On the card, which she read to me, was written: "We are praying for you. 'The eternal God is thy dwelling place. And underneath are the everlasting arms'" (Deut. 33:27a). The flowers were so very beautiful and the verse so comforting that for a moment I forgot the letter and the burning of most of our earthly belongings, which we had collected over a period of fifteen years. But soon my mind reverted to the letter, and I thought, "Oh, all those wonderful pictures of our children, all my oil painting's, my hand-painted china, all our thingsare burned." Then the Lord said to me, "I took your pictures of the children and your things, but I left your children. I took Dr. and Mrs. Lockett's three children, but I left their things." (The doctor and his wife were medical missionaries who had returned from Africa to educate their three children. All three children were drowned one night as they attempted to cross Dead Man's Creek on their way home. This tragedy occurred near the town where our furniture burned. Dr. Lockett, a very godly man, said with Job, "Jehovah gave, and Jehovah hath taken away; blessed be the name of Jehovah" [Job 1:21b]. The doctor and his wife returned to Africa and resumed their ministry in the hospital, of which he was head, and to which the Lord had called them.)
These thoughts made me so rejoice over our children's safety that I said, "O Lord, I am so very thankful that you spared the children that I will never grieve one moment, over the things you took." I could still see in the church those three white caskets. I was so overjoyed with the thought that we still had our children that I even had joy in the thing's' being burned. Never have I grieved for any of those things, so complete was the victory that God gave me at that moment. (We did not know then that the Lord would call my husband to head the Jewish Department at the Bible Institute of Los Angeles, and that we would not need those things, as we were well provided for when we arrived. The Institute put us in a home furnished complete in every detail. He who had allowed our possessions to be burned knew what He had planned for our lives in the future.)
Although I had given instructions that my mail be placed in my sister's box, the Lord had intervened and had seen that this letter was brought to me, for I was the only person who knew what had been put in the storage and the value of each article. In the twenty-one days that I was in the hospital, that letter, followed by the flowers with the little note, was the only mail that was forwarded to me at the hospital.
My sister took me from the hospital to her hotel room, and then each day for two months she took me in a wheel chair to the clinic for treatments. Her husband, who had had an operation at another hospital in Rochester, asked me how I managed to get Dr. Mayo for my surgeon. I told him that I had had nothing to do with the selection, that circumstances just worked out that way. All I know was that the Friday prayer group was praying that no one would operate on me but Dr. Mayo and that God had answered by permitting the clinic doctors to dismiss my case. My brother-in-law said, "Well, God must have done it, because man and money could not. I tried both, but I had to be content with one of the other doctors. You had no money, prestige, or pull, and yet you got Dr. Mayo. God surely must have answered prayer." Then he added, "And you also got fifty percent better nurse's care than I did, although I paid for a special nurse and you did not. I was suffering with my nerves for fifteen days and you were calmer than I ever knew you to be. And I know from experience that there is nothing in an operation to calm a person's nerves. Truly, I have never seen God intervene in the affairs of man before, but with my own eyes I have seen Him do it in your case. And now I believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. I am willing to take Him as my personal Saviour. If I were able to go home (he was still under treatment following his operation), I would go to Chicago with you and have your husband baptize me." Later he was baptized.
Several months afterward, when I was asked in Chicago by a certain minister to tell a group of young people the experience which I had while at this hospital, twelve young Christians, as a result of my testimony, surrendered their lives for full-time Christian service, although I had made no appeal to them.
While I was still in the hospital, and just a few days after my husband had returned to Chicago, he had a violent attack of malaria. His temperature skyrocketed above 106 degrees within a very short time. When he was first taken ill, he notified a friend who immediately got in touch with the leader of the Friday prayer group and also with Mr. Beck, his friend at Marshall Field's store. These three friends went to him at once and, throughout his illness, prayed and cared for him. God was pleased to answer prayer for my husband, too. When his fever was gone, he stayed in the home of the friend whom he had first called until he was able to go back to our apartment.
When God works, Satan always tries to hinder. When God calls a person into His service, Satan does his utmost to block his obeying God. When we were called, Satan knew what God could and would accomplish through our obedience to His call, and thus he tried to destroy us both. Knowing how I had prayed that the Lord would call my husband to leave all and give God's Word to Israel, he first struck at me two different times, and then he struck a deadly blow at my husband. But, praise God, Satan was conquered at Calvary. He can do his worst and can cause endless trouble and grief, but he can go only as far as God's will allows him to go, and ultimately he falls short of victory. God's Word states that the devil "walketh about, seeking whom he may devour," but "the God of all grace ... after ye have suffered a little while, shall himself perfect, establish, strengthen you" (I Peter 5:8-11). God established and strengthened both of us.
God preserved our lives for a purpose, though at that time we were unaware of its full scope. He had this great world-wide work for us to do in giving His Word to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile. Praise His holy name! We rejoice that by His grace we have not been unfaithful to the heavenly vision, nor to His call, but have worked almost day and night since then to accomplish it.
A few months after I had returned from Dr. Mayo's Clinic to my family, God called my husband to the superintendency of the Jewish Department of the Bible Institute of Los Angeles. When we were ready to leave Chicago to go out to California with our little family, we had to go as Abraham did, by faith, not knowing how we could possibly manage when we arrived, as our furniture had burned while I was in the hospital. My sister who had been with me in Rochester wrote me:
"Lita, we do not want you to try to go to California with your husband; you are not able. You know your furniture burned, and you have no money to buy more. Let David go on to California and see whether he likes the position or not. And you and the children come to Texas where Father will rent a place for you and take care of you and the children. He will stay with you, or one of us will stay with you to help you. Then, if your husband likes the position, he can, after he has received money enough to rent a place and get it furnished, send for you and the children."
I read this letter to the Friday prayer group. I told the members that for five years I had been praying and sacrificing to the end that we might give God's Word to Israel, and that, since God had at last called Dr. Cooper to a definite service in this field, I was so greatly thrilled that I could fairly ascend, that nothing could stop me from going with him to California. I told them that I was so happy that I would be willing to live in a tent on the hillsideif it did not leak. I asked, "Will you please pray about this?"
Our leader, Mrs. McDonough, led in the petition. She said, "Lord, you heard this letter, and you heard our frail little sister say she would be willing to live in a tent. We want you to give her something better than that. We are going to ask you to go ahead of this family and prepare them a place to live. Lord, please give her a home, furnished in every detail. We are going to trust you to do that for this little family.
Did our blessed Lord hear and answer this prayer? He did most marvelously.
I wrote my sister that I could not stay in Texas, but was going on to Los Angeles with my husband. I asked that she and my mother and father meet me in San Antonio at my brother's on a certain day, telling her that we could stop over for only three days.
The week that we left Chicago for Los Angeles, Mrs. McDonough gave a party in my honor. She was the wife of one of the elders of the Moody Church. For many years she led a prayer meeting every Friday from nine until five, in her own home. And what a prayer meeting she led! It seemed that all heaven opened up and listened when she prayed. Multitudes of definite prayers were answered in this group through the years. At the party, she announced:
"I want to make a confession to all of you ladies before our sister leaves. I had never in my life prayed for Israel until this little frail Mrs. Cooper came into our group weeping her heart out for Israel. But from this time forward our prayer group is going to do as the Scriptures say to do: pray for Israel first and also the Gentiles. We have always had one bank for our offering for missions, but now I have another here, and our first offering is to go into the bank for Israel. Our other offering will go into our regular bank."
The Friday prayer group and other friends were standing with us in prayer daily; but, even so, Satan was determined to strike at us again. He could not, however, have the victory; for, as I have already said, he was conquered at Calvary, and we were, as all believers are, covered by the precious blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for the sins of the whole world.
On the very first day of our journey, our younger daughter, the baby of the family, got her thumb horribly mashed in the crack of an iron door on the train. We soon stopped at Pekin, Indiana, and took her to a doctor, who lifted the nail off and put a bandage on the thumb. A friend who saw the mangled thumb gave her five dollars for letting the doctor dress it. Again we took her to a doctor when we stopped at San Antonio.
Before telling you more about the little mangled thumb, I shall tell you what was awaiting us when we arrived in Los Angeles, the evening of February 4, 1926. We were met by the late Rev. W. H. Hale, Superintendent of the Bible Institute; two women workers of the Jewish Department; and a student with a Bible Institute truck. These friends brought us immediately to a nice, well-lighted, and well-kept home on Berenice Avenue, belonging to missionaries who were in Honolulu.
The only person in Los Angeles whom we had known was there to greet us, and she had prepared for us a lovely dinner. When we entered the house, our younger daughter exclaimed to her, "Mrs. Wetzel, I wish we could have as pretty a home here as you have." She replied, "My dear, this is not my home; it is yours. I am only here to meet you and to make you comfortable." As we entered, we were met by the aroma of the delicious hot dinner which she had on the table, all ready for us.
I was first attracted by the beautiful table arrangement of gorgeous geraniums which she had gathered from the yard where they were blooming in profusion, even though it was in February. We had just come from snow-covered, icy-cold Chicago, where geraniums were never seen blooming except in flower pots in the house. And what a joy it was, and what a delight, to see so very many rosesred white and pink! When we had finished eating that very nice, tasty dinner, our friend showed us the house: first the linen closet with all the nice linens, and then the bedrooms. She had put fresh linen on all the beds and had the covers turned back, just ready for us. When we had finished our inspection of the well-furnished home, she said, "This is yours as long as want to live in it. The Bible Institute has rented it for you." She helped us to unpack our suitcases and trunks and to put the things away, so that, when morning came, we were as settled as if we had lived there a long time. The pantry was loaded with groceries. Not one thing was lacking in the house.
At eight o'clock the next morning, my husband and I enrolled our four children in the school near by. Then we went to the Bible Institute.
When we entered the lobby of the Bible Institute building, I said to Mr. Hale, who had employed my husband, "I feel in my soul that this work at the Institute is only a steppingstone to greater work which the Lord has for my husband to do for Israel." To this remark he replied, "Listen, Mrs. Cooper, I brought Dr. Cooper out here for him to give his life to the Institute, and I do not want you ever to say another word about this being a steppingstone to a greater work for Israel!" I held my peace, but still I felt in my soul that Dr. Cooper would not be there over three or four years (Actually he was there four and a half years.)
I wrote my sister how beautifully God had provided for us and how marvelously he had answered prayer, telling her that my heavenly Father was just as able to look after me as my dear old dad. (He was far more able.) She wrote in reply, "Well, at least I am thankful for that hot dinner which was on the table for you and the beds that were ready for you to occupy!"
As soon as possible, after we had arrived in Los Angeles, one of the Bible Institute workers took us to a very fine doctor at the big General Hospital, and he treated our little girl's thumb for several weeks. When it did not heal, he X-rayed it and said that the bone was infected and that it would have to be amputated. He set Tuesday as the day to amputate it. On Monday morning I asked prayer for her at the prayer meeting held in the Jewish Department of the Bible Institute, and again I asked prayer for her at a prayer meeting of the Church of the Open Door. At both meetings, friends prayed that, if it could be God's will, He would heal the thumb without it's having to be amputated. Praise His holy name! Again He heard and answered prayer.
On Tuesday I took her to the hospital. The doctor was away and had left word for me to brings her on Thursday. When I took her on Thursday to have the operation, the doctor removed the bandage and found to his utter amazementand to mine as wellthat the thumb was entirely healed. He said, "Why, Mrs. Cooper, what has happened? I thought we were going to amputate this thumb this morning, but it is completely well. It does not even need a bandage." I told him about the prayers of the friends at the Institute and at the church and said that this healing was God's answer to prayer. He turned to her and said, "Little girl, you are a very lucky little one. Be careful not to get hurt again. You may not be so fortunate another time."
Are you praying for your children? It pays to pray. "Ye have not because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may spend it in your pleasures" (James 4:2b,3). But if you ask in faith, for unselfish reasons, God will answer. You may depend upon it. The answer may not always be exactly what you asked for or wanted, but you may rest assured that it will be God's best for you.
We lived in the missionaries' home until that fall when my father sent us $3,000 for a down payment on the two-story home at 4417 Berenice Avenue, which housed our family and also the Biblical Research Society rent freeuntil 1950.
My dear dad felt that he had finally got us settled in a home, although not so near to him as he had wished. The fact that we at last had a home made him very happy.