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Daughter’s loss came at a time of growing joy, Ziglar recounts

DALLAS (BP)–Although Zig Ziglar’s daughter, Suzan, was nearly 30 when she accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior, her subsequent maturity in Christ strengthened her famous father’s faith.
While Suzan was first afflicted with pulmonary fibrosis, a disease that turns the lungs to a leather-like substance, in 1993, she wasn’t bedridden until the last two weeks of her life. Despite watching her life quickly ebb away at age 46, Ziglar said he witnessed a remarkable strength in his oldest daughter.
“Psalm 139:16 is my favorite Bible verse,” said Ziglar, nationally known motivational speaker and member of Prestonwood Baptist Church. “It gives us great peace. God knew her beginning and end on earth.
“Knowing our deep love for her, and that we provided the best medical care available, as well as constant prayer support, we have never had to say, ‘What if?’ or ‘If only …’ or ‘We could have or should have.’ While this doesn’t eliminate our grief, it makes it more bearable and removes all feelings of guilt.”
Two days before Suzan was to be evaluated for a lung transplant at a St. Louis hospital, she was stricken by an attack. It was far worse than the fatigue and shortness of breath that had bothered her for several months previously.
Rushed to the nearest hospital and put on oxygen, doctors ordered her taken by helicopter to a more advanced treatment center.
Before they moved her, she joked with her family, relating how she told her doctor she wanted a police escort to the new hospital.
“She said, ‘I want sirens going, the whole smear, I want everybody to know I’m on my way,'” Ziglar recalled. “Had we not known her the way we do, we would have thought she was in denial. But I’ve never seen anybody with more faith.”
That included a passionate belief in God’s sovereignty, Ziglar said. Knowing her days were numbered, several times before her death she cautioned him against telling her oldest daughter she would be healed.
Because of his optimism and since he, her mother and so many other Christians would be praying for her, she knew he wanted to tell her daughter that her mother would be healed, Ziglar recounted.
“Dad, we don’t know that,” Suzan said. “If God heals me, I’ll rejoice. If he decides to really heal me and call me home, I’ll rejoice. God is sovereign. We’re to worship him. I don’t want my daughter mad at God because he called her mother home.”
Ziglar said her spiritual life and positive outlook were developing to their strongest point when she died, which made their parting so bittersweet.
His daughter struggled with some personal difficulties in her life, he said, but after becoming a Christian that began to change. He described her as having a great sense of humor, a loud, beautiful laugh, and the same kind of joy that he has known for years. Highly intelligent, he said, she had a vast vocabulary and served as his editor for his newspaper column before her death.
“I’m pretty dogmatic on occasion and she had this beautiful way of taking the edge off some of the things I would say,” Ziglar said. “I just bragged on her all the time because she was so good and so helpful.
“She told me after she had been helping me about two months, ‘You know, Dad, for the first time in my life I feel the joy that you’ve felt for so many years of making a contribution and helping people.’ One of the things that made it so tough was her just beginning to experience that joy and then God calling her home.”

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  • Ken Walker