It’s that time again. It’s time for another check-up on Friday, November 21. I covet your prayers. It has been a year since I completed radiation treatments for prostate cancer. This will be my fourth check-up and blood work in a year. I am most grateful that the three previous visits to the doctor my blood work has come back good and I seem be doing appointmentvery well.

You may ask, “If your three previous check-ups have produced good reports and you are feeling well, what is the worry?”

I would be less than honest if I didn’t confess that each time a doctor visit pops up on the calendar I am revisited by those same emotions that welled up inside of me on June 14, 2013. That was the day I hesitantly answered the phone and heard the doctor say, “Rev. Merritt I wish I had better news, but…..” There aren’t words to describe the disbelief, numbness, detachment, and anxiousness that you experience at the moment you hear those life changing words, “You have cancer.”

The paradox of emotions that engulf you as your new journey begins is like riding on a roll-a-coaster. While there is anxiousness, there is a sense of His calming peace. While there is uncertainty, there is a sense of His assurance. While there is detachment, there is a sense of His abiding presence. While there is human weakness, there is a sense of His divine strength. While there is a lack of human sufficiency, His grace is sufficient.

How can one experience such a paradox of emotions all at the same time? I don’t know how, but I am here to tell you that I did and that I do again each time another doctor’s appointment draws near. In my humanness I ponder how the check-up will turn out, in my spirit I know that He is with me and will never leave me or forsake me no matter the result. I have learned that prayer is not me trying to change the mind of God, but me discovering the mind of God for my life and realizing He is at the helm of the ship of my life’s voyage.

Over 44 years ago I trusted Christ as my Savior and while I have failed and made a mess on more occasions than I would like to admit, there is one truth that has remained constant: He has never failed me and He has never been unfaithful to me. My life is in His secure and strong hands, and after the journey I embarked upon almost a year-and-a-half ago I am  more keenly aware of that today than ever before. I am here to tell you, “He is faithful.”

I now see each day as a precious, precious gift. Each sunrise, each moment, is to be treasured. I love life and nothing gives me greater joy than to be used by Him to invest in the lives of others. My desire is to hang around and do that as long as possible, yet all us are only one heartbeat away, only one step away, from eternity. I know that someday, unless the Lord returns, I, as well as you, will find the flower of life wilting before the rays of a setting sun. But here is the difference: if you know Christ as your Savior you can say with David, “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil for THOU art with me” (Ps. 23:4). The long shadow of our last enemy ever lingers near the paths we walk, but we have the assurance of Christ who proclaimed, “I am the Light of the world. He that walks with Me walks not in darkness” (John 8:12). His Light shines brightly in our darkest night and guides us in all of life and, as well, as we travel beyond the veil of time. O, what a Savior.

While I will anxiously await the report from my blood work following my doctor visit, I will trust and not be afraid, for because of His shed blood on my behalf on Calvary’s Hill I have already received the greatest healing of all – spiritual healing from my trespasses and sins. I may answer the phone with a paradoxical calm yet trembling hand, listening intently as the doctor tells me the results; but the Rock I confidently stand upon will never tremble.

Yes, His grace is more than sufficient.


Dr. Dan


CrossLightIt has been a year since I had the first of 43 radiation treatments for prostate cancer. While I am doing very well since those treatments began last September 10 and ended on  November 7, 2013, what has not ended is a question that has repeatedly been asked of me  over the last year. It is a question that about a year ago challenged the very core of my philosophical and theological belief regarding God’s dealing with His children. The question often asked of me is, “Do you believe God gives people sickness and disease?” I realize there are those who would contend that because God is sovereign, which He is, and that He is in control of all things, which He is, that God does indeed give people cancer. A student of theology and philosophy for over forty years, I know all the theological and philosophical arguments regarding this subject, but it moves from theory to the practical when it involves you personally – as it did me.

From my biblical understanding of God I cannot adopt the position, nor do I believe for a moment, that God gives people cancer, sickness and disease. If God is the Author of sickness and disease then what right do we have to seek healing? If God is the Author of sickness and disease, then if I seek medical healing from my present condition then I am acting contrary to the will of God who gave it to me. If God is the Author of sickness and disease then did not Jesus act contrary to the will of God when He healed those afflicted?

To me there is a big difference between saying God gives one cancer and the Lord, because of the sinful world we live in, allowing the natural processes of the world’s abnormality negatively affecting the world and our individual lives. One of the gifts God has given to humanity is the gift of freewill. With that gift comes the risk and possibility of making wrong choices, choices that oppose God’s best intentions for humanity. As the result of humanity collectively making wrong choices sin has a ripple effect that touches all of our lives in a variety of ways.

One of my favorite theologians, Francis A. Schaeffer, says it well, “I would say that I do not think Christians take the Fall and the present abnormality of the world with comprehension and seriousness. I mean by this that although Bible-believing Christians certainly do hold to a historical Fall and the present abnormality of the world as a theological truth, when it comes down to living, this is often forgotten. In other words, we forget that everything is abnormal today, and that much of the sickness in the world and sorrows in other areas are a result of this abnormality. Or to say it another way, there is much in history that God did not mean to be there, in the way that He created the world and created man.”

Sin has infected the world and as a result there is the possibility that it can affect all of us in a negative way. Sickness, disease, and the ills that we encounter are the abnormal flow of sin’s effect. The fallenness of the world means no one’s life is perfect and it means no one is exempt from fallenness disrupting their lives. Fallenness can temporally disrupt our lives visiting us with sickness and disease. This abnormality invaded my body, but with prayer and the Lord’s help I have and am using available medical means to fight against it.

While I do not believe God gave me or anyone else cancer, I do believe He can use such situations to bring about great good in our lives and in the lives of those we would not otherwise have come to know. God’s overruling providence overcomes the destructiveness the fallenness of the world seeks to bring into our lives. The Lord is able to bring treasures out of tragedy. He can always take a curse and turn it into a blessing (Duet. 23:5). He can always bring beauty out of ashes (Isaiah 61:3). He can always bring life amidst death (Jh 11) He can give us joy in place of sorrow (Isaiah 61:3). That is what we see at the cross. At the cross of Christ we see what looked like defeat turned into victory. The cross of Christ shines  Light into the midst of our darkest night. At the tomb we see a sealed grave turned into a doorway of hope.

In the Christ of the cross is found the redemptive and resurrection power to overcome all that sin seeks to inflict upon humanity. The cross is our light in the darkness of sin, sickness, disease and evil. In the cross is found the reestablishment of all that is good, right and godly, which the goodness found in the holy-love of God desires us to experience in Christ. God in Christ weeping at the tomb of His friend Lazarus (John 11) reveals to me He is not the creator of sin, sickness, disease and evil, but He is the Empathizer with human suffering and at the cross, as our Emancipator, He beckons us to come and experience His resurrection and restorative power amidst sin’s scars.

In the Christ of the cross and His resurrection we have the guarantee that sin, evil, sickness and disease will not win at last. That is the message in the cross event: God’s holy-love and grace are more powerful and able to overcome death, defeat and destruction. While the world is abnormal as the result of sin, it is possible to bring all our situations and circumstances under the finished work of Christ knowing that in Him it is possible to live a life that has fullenness and beauty amidst the world’s fallenness.

We should not, and I did not, resign ourselves to the abnormality that visits us. What I believe honors and glorifies the Lord is when we bring that which is abnormal under the blood of Christ and let Him bring forth beauty. In so doing we are able to show forth His sufficiency in a fallen world, influencing others by our experiences that He alone can turn our scars into shining stars.


Dr. Dan