“But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ…that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death” (Philippians 3:7-8, 10). 

I was watching TBN (Don’t have a coronary; we were in a hotel room. It was the only “Christian” channel that was provided). I can’t name the particular show nor will I reveal the name of the show’s host, but the first guest’s name was Britt Merrick (and I knew nothing about him). The discussion was centered on his book, Big God: What Happens When We Trust Him, which includes the saga of his 7 year old daughter Daisy’s fight with cancer. This subject was the main topic that the host wanted Merrick to focus on, but the author clearly had a different message than the host, or the audience, expected. I watched in amazement as the crowd missed the most critical point, as well as the biggest blessing. 

Forgive me if my account is not totally accurate (it was past my bedtime, we’d had an extremely long day, and were lying in the hotel room bed trying desperately to go to sleep) but essentially Merrick’s daughter was discovered to have a nerf ball sized malignant tumor in her abdomen when she was 5 years old. The crowd and host groaned as he explained the doctor’s prognosis, which was grim, and the surgeries, chemo, and recovery. But Merrick was clear to describe his prayer during this ordeal: “God, I want more of Jesus and nothing else. I want to love Christ even more than my daughter and any thing else in this world. I want her healed but, even more than that, I want you!” The crowd and the host remained eerily silent until the host asked “And what happened to your daughter’s cancer?” “The doctors proclaimed her healed,” Merrick explained. And the crowd clapped and shouted as the host egged them on. 

“But,” said Merrick, “the cancer was soon to return.” The audience sank. This, however, did not hinder Merrick from his theme. “We prayed even harder for more and more of Jesus, that He would be our all in all and our greatest treasure…more than anything this world had to offer, including our precious daughter.” The host was now stumbling around and the attendees sat in sobered silence: “no healing…that’s a bummer.” Seemingly, this was not supposed to be the message intended for this broadcast so the host pushed ahead with his agenda: “What happened next?” “More surgery and treatments. And then, finally, now that she is 7, hope that my daughter is in remission.” The crowd, and the host, went wild!!! Little did they know that, to this very day, little Daisy continues to battle cancer and suffers from the awful side-effects of intensive chemotherapy. 

Merrick was undeterred. It seemed as if he thought they had missed the point – and the greatest blessing – as well as I did. “But God answered our prayer,” he passionately intimated to all the listeners, both in the studio and on TV. “We got more of Jesus!  And, yes, our daughter seems well but that isn’t the biggest blessing. We got more of what we can never lose…Jesus became our greatest treasure! Now He means more than anything this world has to offer. He is more beautiful than anything – even our daughter. Because, when you have Jesus, you have everything that really matters.” 

This was too much for the confused host (and the stunned, silent audience) so he felt the need to redirect. “Brother Merrick, could you lead us in prayer for those who are listening who need a miracle, those who are facing a financial or physical crisis and need to have God answer their pleas for His intervention, healing, and financial restoration?” Without a response, Merrick began to pray (and I paraphrase): 

“Loving Father, I pray for all those under the sound of my voice that are encountering difficulties. I pray that they may seek after and find more of Jesus, that they might find all of their satisfaction in Him. No matter what the circumstances, may we see Christ as the greatest treasure imaginable – far superior to anything this world has to offer. And we pray this because you are worthy and for your glory alone. Amen.” 

There was a long, unappreciative silence. So the host decided to move past the awkwardness by introducing the next guest. After all, there was no unexplainable financial restoration, no supernatural marital reconciliation, no instantaneous, complete, miraculous healing of the daughter. This wasn’t what these folks seemed to be looking for, what they really wanted. No wonder there appeared to be a pall of disappointment that permeated this tense moment – it seems all this family got out of this tragedy was Jesus as their ultimate prize and purpose. I may be wrong (and I hope I am), but from all indications the host and the audience missed the point…and the biggest and best blessing. But Paul didn’t (see Philippians 3). And I pray we don’t either.