Summary: In the midst of heartache and suffering the Psalmist assures us that we can still praise God for His faithfulness and mercy.

Yet Will I Praise Him!

Psalm 46

Grief is greatest when love abounds. Is it any wonder that so many hearts all across our city and far beyond have been shattered with the loss of our precious sister Jill? Is it any wonder that we ache when we think about the struggle that our brother Jason is still fighting? Is it any wonder that tears well up in our eyes when we think about the future loss that Abby will feel each time she yearns for her mother and realizes that she is gone? Is it any wonder that we feel like we have lost our best friend? Is it any wonder that you young people feel like you have lost someone who truly loved you, someone who did more than tell you about Jesus’ love – someone who showed you His awesome love.

Our loss is huge, our hearts are shattered, but our God will see us through. We have lost our friend, but we have not lost our hope. Jason and Abby’s world, and all of us that love them so much, have had their worlds shattered, but God is our Rock! Our frailty and mortality have been exposed, but God is our hiding place. Our hearts have been battered by this terrible storm, but God is our shelter.

I know that for some of you those words sound so trite, like so many Christian clichés, but those of you who know Jason and those who love Jill, you know that is what they believe – that is what they lived every moment of every day. It was just two weeks ago that Jason and Jill led our worship service for the first time since they had been with us in Oklahoma City. Think of the topics they could have shared with us. If you had one opportunity to speak about God in front of a couple of hundred folks, what would you talk about? What Scripture would you share? How about grace? No, no, how about salvation? Or maybe forgiveness? Those are huge, important subjects that we can never hear about too often, but Jason and Jill didn’t teach us about those topics. Out of all the topics that they could have chosen to have us focus on what did they choose? I know you remember – “When you can’t see God’s hand, you can trust His heart.” You can trust His heart my friend.

Jason and Jill’s prayer that Sunday was that we might have our eyes opened to the security we can possess by trusting in the Sovereignty of God. Their desire was that we would know that our God is absolutely in control of every detail of our lives, even the darkest moments, and that He works all things in our lives for His glory and our good. Even when we can’t logically come to the conclusion that what is happening is good; our faith in God’s Sovereign power gives us the firm hope that we can trust His heart.

If you will remember Jill sang the most beautiful song that morning. A song called, “I Can See.” Let me refresh your memory.

I Can See

All at once He walked beside me

Like He had been there all along

Not a stranger, but a Father

Who could sense when something’s wrong

He answered all of my questions

And He understood all of my fears

That somehow vanquished now that He was here

Can’t you see who walks with you

Can’t you hear who speaks your name

Can’t you feel something stirring in your heart

How His words rang strong and true

Like a once familiar strain

Could the paths we follow from now on be the same

I couldn’t bear for Him to leave me

So I begged Him to stay

Spend the evening, a few moments

Before He went His way

Then like a host He stood and blessed me

Broke the bread and poured the wine

And there was something I knew I recognized

Yes, I can see who walks with me

I can see who speaks my name

And I can feel something stirring in my heart

How His words ring strong and true

Like a once familiar strain

And I know that I’ll never be the same

I can see

And from that moment in time

I felt the emptiness subside

And all the glory of His power shining through

And for the first time in my life

I really looked into His eyes and saw eternity

And suddenly I knew

Yes, I can see

Yes, I can see who walks with me

I can see who speaks my name

And I can feel something stirring in my heart

How His words ring strong and true

Like a once familiar strain

And I know that I’ll never be the same

I can see

I can see

I can see

I have no way of knowing, but I would imagine that Jill didn’t have any idea that she was preparing us for the journey that we would have to take in less than two weeks. I have to be honest with you, when I look at this sorrow through my rational, human eyes and think about Jason and Jill and Abby’s trial with my logical mind – I can’t see, I just can’t see. How can you make sense of such an overwhelming loss? Why would this happen to such a Christlike family? There is not an analyst, psychiatrist, or family counselor that can make sense of it for me when you try and explain it on an everyday, human level.

I have learned from my experiences in the past that when times like this happen there are so many things that we turn to just to try to cope, but I have only found one thing that has truly helped me through the storms. Friends are faithful. Quiet times are serene. Advice can either be aggravating or agreeable. Hugs are helpful. All of these are appreciated, but nothing has brought comfort and peace to my heart and soul like God’s Word. God’s Word is rich. He uses it to comfort us in our afflictions. He leads us through nights and days that are so dark that we can’t even see our hand in front of our face. I want to read some Scripture to you that has brought comfort to my aching heart in times past…and once again this week. I pray that God’s Spirit ministers to you through His Word.

2 The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. (Psalm 18:2 NIV)

1 As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. 2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? 3 My tears have been my food day and night, while men say to me all day long, “Where is your God?” 4 These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go with the multitude, leading the procession to the house of God, with shouts of joy and thanksgiving among the festive throng. 5 Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and 6my God. My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you from the land of the Jordan, the heights of Hermon—from Mount Mizar. 7 Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me. 8 By day the LORD directs his love, at night his song is with me—a prayer to the God of my life. 9 I say to God my Rock, “Why have you forgotten me? Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy?” 10 My bones suffer mortal agony as my foes taunt me, saying to me all day long, “Where is your God?” 11 Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. (Psalm 46:1-11 NIV)

1 I love the LORD, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. 2 Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live. 3 The cords of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave came upon me; I was overcome by trouble and sorrow. 4 Then I called on the name of the LORD: “O LORD, save me!” 5 The LORD is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion. 6 The LORD protects the simple hearted; when I was in great need, he saved me. 7 Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the LORD has been good to you. 8 For you, O LORD, have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling, 9 that I may walk before the LORD in the land of the living. 10 I believed; therefore I said, “I am greatly afflicted.” 11 And in my dismay I said, “All men are liars.” 12 How can I repay the LORD for all his goodness to me? 13 I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD. 14 I will fulfill my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people. 15 Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints. (Psalm 116:1-15 NIV)

5 Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. 6 He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. 7 My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. 8 Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. Selah (Psalm 62:5-8 NIV)

21 When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, 22 I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you. 23 Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. 24 You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. 25 Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. 26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (Psalm 73:21-26 NIV)

19 I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. 20 I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. 21 Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: 22 Because of the LORD’S great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. 23 They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. 24 I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” 25 The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; 26 it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD. (Lamentations 3:19-26 NIV)

3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. 5 For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. (2 Corinthians 1:3-5 NIV)

5…weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning. (Psalm 30:5 NIV)

I have found that when my heart aches and my mind cannot understand God’s ways it is better for me to drink deeply of God’s Word than it is for me try and determine what is going on. It is better for me to ask God the questions on my heart than it is for me to ask people for their opinions about what is happening. People see only from temporal perspectives, but our Sovereign God sees the big picture, the eternal landscape and He is busy bringing about His story of redemption and salvation through everything that we call circumstances and situations. I find my strength in God’s presence as I feast upon His Word. I want to encourage you who are troubled and broken this morning to do the same thing. Where can I go when I feel like my world has unraveled? We can go to the Rock of our salvation, the Father of all compassion, the God of all comfort, we can go to our Sovereign God.

I know that we have questions. I want to assure you that those questions are real, but how we answer them has incredible implications. How they are answered has everything to do with whom you ask. Will you direct your questions to the Father or will you try and arrive at your own conclusions, ask someone you think is incredibly wise, or seek professional opinions? I have learned to direct my questions to the Father, not that He always answers them, but He always holds me, comforts me, and reassures me that He knows what is happening and it is going to be all right.

You need to know that I am not easily pacified. I want to know. I have always had this innate drive to understand. I have never simply shrugged my shoulders and said, “Oh well, that’s the way it goes.” Because of that bent within me situations like the one we are now going through use to rattle me like you would not believe. God knew my weakness and He showed me how limited my understanding truly is through an experience I had with my daughter.

When Annie was younger she was sick and needed to go to the doctor. I rarely if ever take Annie to see the doctor, but on this occasion I did. When Annie saw Dr. Evans he came to the conclusion that he needed some lab work done. When we walked through his office to the lab so they could take some blood Annie was just as content as she could be in my arms. We sat down in the chair. The lab technician came over to draw blood. Annie was still calm and resting in my arms, safe in her daddy’s arms. The lady then pricked Annie’s finger and she looked up at me just before she let out a blood-curdling yell that shook the room – all the while still looking at me. Annie couldn’t talk at that point in her life, but her look spoke volumes. I could read her mind as she was saying, “Daddy, why are you letting this lady hurt me? I thought you love me? Why?” Annie didn’t know it at the time, but I wasn’t hurting her by letting the lady take her blood. What brought her pain was truly for her good. While all of this was going on God spoke to my heart and showed me that I am Annie.

I lack so much understanding concerning the good that my Father has determined for me. The life that God has purposed for me is designed to mold me into the image of His son and it is imperative that I keep that in mind as I go through painful, heart wrenching experiences.

I have seen good come from Annie’s visit to the doctor’s office that day and I have already seen good come out of Jason and Jill’s tragedy. With the recovery that Jason is making it is easy at this point to see that good is taking place, but what about Jill? Jill is gone. She is home with the Father that she loved with all of her heart and who she longed to see one day.

Many of you know that Jill led our Youth Choir and the kids of our church were so blessed by her heart for the Lord and her love for each of them. Jill and the kids were working on their next song for our Sunday night youth led worship service. Let me read you the words to the song they were working on. The song is called, “I Can Only Imagine.”

I Can Only Imagine

I can only imagine

What it will be like

When I walk

By your side

I can only imagine

What my eyes will see

When your face

Is before me

I can only imagine


Surrounded by Your glory, what will my heart feel

Will I dance for you Jesus or in awe of you be still

Will I stand in your presence or to my knees will I fall

Will I sing hallelujah, will I be able to speak at all

I can only imagine

I can only imagine

When that day comes

And I find myself

Standing in the Son

I can only imagein

When all I will do

Is forever

Forever worship You

I can only imagine


©1999 Simpleville Music(ASCAP)

Words and Music by Bart Millard

I can only imagine what Jill is experiencing right now? As we close our worship service this morning I want to speak to you who still have questions. I want to encourage you by bringing to your attention the fact that you may have many questions, but there is one question that you have yet to ask and I can promise you that you will not ask it. With all of the questions that are being asked there is one question that has yet to be uttered. I need to put this in context for you. There are people all over America who are praying for Jason at this moment and have been praying since they heard of the tragedy. There were people from all over who came to be at the hospital with Jason’s family and came to comfort Jill’s family. With all of these many people comes many questions, but the one question that has yet to be uttered, the one question that cannot be asked is this – “I wonder if Jill is in heaven?” You haven’t asked that question have you? What a legacy to leave with those you are leaving behind! What a testimony of a life lived for the glory of God!

Now I have two questions to ask of you before we go. Would you rather God have spared you of this heartache and pain by never allowing you the blessing of knowing someone like Jill Mirikitani? I can’t answer for you, but I will assure you that I would have my heart broken ten thousand times for the privilege of knowing for a short while someone who so clearly lived the life that Jesus calls us to live, someone who was so surrendered to the Savior that His love, grace, and mercy shone through like a diamond glistening in the sun. I would have loved to have known Jill longer, but the truth is that if I would have had my way there would never have been a time when Jill would have gone home to the Lord she loved. That’s the way it is with God’s servants. We want them around forever.

There is a second question I need to ask you. Knowing what you know about Jill – knowing of her passion for the Lord and her longing for heaven – do you really think Jill would come back to us if the Lord gave her that option? Some of you might think that Jill would come back so she could see Abby grow up or so she and Jason could see their camp become a reality or so she could see you one more time. I know from talking to Jill, from knowing her heart and passion that she wouldn’t leave the glorious presence of Almighty God for anything other than the opportunity to say to you and me and everyone who would listen to her share one final thought – “Don’t miss it! Don’t miss the opportunity to sit at Jesus’ feet and praise the Father in all of His glory and majesty! Don’t miss it!”

I know that there are many who are listening to me this morning and you have said that you would get right with the Lord some day. You are awful busy right now. You want to have your fun right now. You have other priorities right now. My friend, I want to assure that all you have is right now. Won’t you bow your head in humility, confess your need for a Savior to the Father, and invite Jesus into your heart as King, Master, and Savior right now? Don’t miss what God has prepared for those who surrender their lives to Him. Don’t miss it.

Mike Hays

Britton Christian Church

922 NW 91st

Oklahoma City, OK. 73114

January 20, 2002

8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. 9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. 10 As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, 11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. (Isaiah 55:8-11 NIV)