Tuesday, January 29, 2013


Warning: This post is loooong. But I think it's worth reading, and I can say that because most of it isn't actually my words.


Pastor Britt came back to speak at Reality this past Sunday for the first time in ten months. His messages have always been powerful and so enlightening for me, revealing facets of familiar scriptures that I had never understood before. And despite his absence from preaching (to the surprise of probably no one in that room), God once again spoke through Britt in such a powerful way. I mean...I've listened to the sermon three times since Sunday, and I keep jotting down more notes and insights!

In case you don't know about Britt's family's situation, here is an extremely brief recap: 

Britt's eight-year-old daughter Daisy has been battling cancer for the past three and a half years. She was diagnosed the third time last year right before Easter, and in August their family went to Israel to pursue alternative treatments that are not available in the US, including immunotherapy and a cancer vaccine. 

They arrived back in the states a few months later, only to find out on December 14 that Daisy has cancer for a fourth time, this time with two inoperable tumors -- one the size of a grapefruit, and one the size of a golf ball. She's been in the hospital most of the past six weeks and is undergoing more chemo and radiation treatments, but it's not looking great.

So as Britt began to speak on Sunday, his sermon was intertwined with the updates and further details on his family's life these past ten months. He said, "In this most difficult time of our lives, we have experienced so much of God's grace and presence. And I'm here today to merely testify of the grace and presence of God in the midst of difficulties."

And testify he did, you guys. (The majority of this post is pretty much directly quoting parts of Britt's sermon, because I really can't sum it up and I don't want to over-simplify it. I highly recommend watching it as soon as it shows up here. The title is "When sparrows fall.")

He spoke in detail of how God met him with His wonderful, rescuing presence and urged us to remember that we are called not to fear man, but to fear God, and to allow His presence to be enough -- no matter what hardships we're facing.

"Fear God, don't fear circumstances. Fear God, don't fear people. Fear God, don't fear death. Fear God, don't fear pain.... People can only do so much to you, but God is far greater; He holds eternity in His hands!"

In Matthew 10:28-31, Jesus addresses His disciples on this topic of fearing man versus fearing God. And Britt explained that the main issue Jesus was teaching them was not what people can do to you, or mortality, or pain/suffering/death, or the unfair, tough circumstances of life. Those things will happen, but they are not the things of eternity.

In verse 29, Jesus explains that not a single sparrow falls from a tree "apart from your Father," and then says, "Therefore, do not fear." Bad things happen (innocent sparrows will fall), but they never happen apart from God's presence.

At this point Britt pointed out that there's a big "elephant in the room" in Jesus' teaching here (and really in all of His teachings in scripture): He doesn't address the question, "WHY?" The disciples were surely thinking to themselves, "If we're obeying God, and He's good and all-powerful, why must we suffer?" And Jesus was surely aware that this WHY was hanging in the air. But would an answer to that question make the pain any more bearable? 

"The why question is not so easily answered," Britt explained, "because it isn't the right question." He wants to point our attention to the real answer -- that one thing that saves us from the endless trouble of why. 

Instead of answering the big question of why, Jesus causes us to ask, "WHO?" Who is present with us when bad things happen?

God's presence is enough to sustain us in our deepest pain. 

Britt told a part of his personal journey that demonstrated his point so well, about how his last two months in Israel he felt like heaven had gone completely silent, and he was depressed and lost. When they got home, his wife Kate urged him to get it together (in so many words), and he decided to fix something he knew he could handle: trimming a tree so that his son could use his skate ramp without branches getting in the way. Long story short, Britt fell out of the tree and ended up in the hospital, and Kate said, "This is not what I had in mind when I asked you to get it together!"

Britt's question of God at that point was, "Why can't you just let me trim a tree and climb out of this depression? You've gotta be kidding me." And then God's grace fell on Britt, and his depression and anger were lifted. "I climbed up a tree, and God pushed me out. When I fell out of a tree, God's grace fell on me." Then a few days later, they found out about Daisy's fourth cancer diagnosis. 

As they were crying and praying, they decided it was time to stop asking why, and only ask God to be with them. That was when Britt realized that those two months of silence happened "because the consuming question on [his] heart was, 'Why is Daisy getting worse? Why is this innocent little sparrow falling? WHY?'"

"And as long as I demanded to know why, heaven was quiet. The moment we stopped asking why and would just ask God to be with us, heaven opened up! I'd been asking the wrong question, and I was such a fool. It wasn't about why; it was about who!"

It doesn't mean they don't struggle. "But we know that God is with us, which gives us peace and even joy in the midst of all of this! God's presence is enough to sustain us." They're trusting Him with the outcome.

Isaiah 41:10

Do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be afraid, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you; I will help you;
I will hold on to you with My righteous right hand.

 "Jesus says, don't be afraid of what can kill you. Cancer's not the thing to fear. Fear God."

"To fear God is to revere, respect, honor, extol, and trust Him enough to believe, by faith, that He is good, sovereign, and present when life is hard, cruel, and out of control.... Life is always going to present things that will incite fear...and when these things happen, we have a choice: to either fear God, or fear everything else. To fear God means to trust Him when everything around you is saying He can't be trusted."

The point is to pursue God, not to pursue answers or a desired outcome

"In the most difficult times of life, we want clarity; God wants our trust.... And rather than giving us answers, He wants to give us Himself -- which is sufficient for every difficulty that we face."

Asking questions is really not trusting or fearing God. "His presence is the remedy that Scripture gives us for fear over and over again!"

Many times, God says, Do not be afraid, for I am with you! (NOT "I will explain it to you.")
(Deuteronomy 20:1; Joshua 1:9; Isaiah 41:10; Isaiah 43:1b-2a,5)

"God's presence proves that he cares, and it soothes our fears!"

Psalm 23:4

Even when I go through the darkest valley,
I fear no danger,
for You are with me.

"And Jesus is the ultimate expression and proof of God's desire to be with us. Christ is Immanuel, God with us. The Cross of Christ proves that whatever is happening to us, it isn't because God doesn't love us! The Resurrection of Christ proves that whatever is happening to us, it isn't ultimate! There is coming an undoing of everything that is wrong. The Ascension of Christ proves that whatever is happening, it isn't outside His control, for He ascended and is exalted, seated on high.... The Holy Spirit of Christ proves that whatever is happening to us, it isn't apart from the Father's presence, for the Spirit is in us, testifying that we are children of the Father. And the Gospel of Christ proves that whatever failures we have, they don't exclude us from the caring presence of the Father. We have been brought to God; He is with us; and that's enough."

Daisy is having another scan today. "Barring a miracle from God, which we believe in and are praying for every day, we know what the scan will say.... But the Father is with us, and He's allowing us to enjoy every moment that we have with her. God's presence is allowing us to have faith rather than fear. Not faith in a certain outcome, but hope in a certain someone. That He is with us unto the end, and when the end comes, we shall be with Him evermore...and that is enough."

Please pray with me for Daisy's scan. I don't know how soon they'll post an update, but you can watch here for any news. 


Man. If you can't tell from this post, I am still reeling from that sermon. How many times have I dwelt entirely on the WHY of my situation without acknowledging the presence of God with me? And even my most difficult, painful situations in life are nowhere near what the Merrick family is going through. 

My prayer this week is that I will continually remember God's grace and presence -- even if I may not feel it tangibly all the time. And I pray that I will know it's enough.

Let me know that You hear me
Let me know Your touch
Let me know that You love me
And let that be enough


  1. Wow! Thank you for sharing this, Tabitha.

    Have you heard the song, "Even if the healing doesn't come" (not sure if that's the exact title though)? That's a tough message to take in even in our family's smaller health trials. I can't imagine all that Daisy and her family have been through. It must be so tough!

  2. @Mary, I LOVE the song "Even if the healing doesn't come." Sooo good!!

    And Tab, this was such a beautiful recap of an absolutely incredible sermon. We are so very blessed to be taught by these men who are SO filled with the Spirit.


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