The Steadfast Love of the Lord

Oct. 10, 2014 Lauren Chandler

Session Transcript

Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he has redeemed from trouble and gathered in from the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south.
Some wandered in desert wastes, finding no way to a city to dwell in; hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted within them. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He led them by a straight way till they reached a city to dwell in.
Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.
Some sat in darkness and in the shadow of death, prisoners in affliction and in irons, for they had rebelled against the words of God, and spurned the counsel of the Most High. So he bowed their hearts down with hard labor; they fell down, with none to help. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and burst their bonds apart.
Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! For he shatters the doors of bronze and cuts in two the bars of iron. Some were fools through their sinful ways, and because of their iniquities suffered affliction; they loathed any kind of food, and they drew near to the gates of death.
Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He sent out his word and healed them, and delivered them from their destruction. Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! And let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving, and tell of his deeds in songs of joy!
Some went down to the sea in ships, doing business on the great waters; they saw the deeds of the Lord, his wondrous works in the deep. For he commanded and raised the stormy wind, which lifted up the waves of the sea.
They mounted up to heaven; they went down to the depths; their courage melted away in their evil plight; they reeled and staggered like drunken men and were at their wits' end. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed. Then they were glad that the waters were quiet, and he brought them to their desired haven.
Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! Let them extol him in the congregation of the people, and praise him in the assembly of the elders. He turns rivers into a desert, springs of water into thirsty ground, a fruitful land into a salty waste, because of the evil of its inhabitants.
He turns a desert into pools of water, a parched land into springs of water. And there he lets the hungry dwell, and they establish a city to live in; they sow fields and plant vineyards and get a fruitful yield. By his blessing they multiply greatly, and he does not let their livestock diminish.

 

When they are diminished and brought low through oppression, evil, and sorrow, he pours contempt on princes and makes them wander in trackless wastes; but he raises up the needy out of affliction and makes their families like flocks.
The upright see it and are glad, and all wickedness shuts its mouth. Whoever is wise, let him attend to these things; let them consider the steadfast love of the Lord.

This is the Word of God. Amen.

So, a little bit of a funny story: I really only have a couple of messages, and they usually all come out of Psalm 107 because the Lord has so entrenched that psalm on my heart. So when I was invited to speak here at True Woman, I was, like, "Oh, done. Psalm 107. I'll do it. That's it. I got that. I've got that talk. I've been meditating on it for three years now. I've got it."

So the speakers had a prayer call and Nancy starts off reading through Psalm 107. She kind of gives a survey, and then she talks about how that's going to be her message on Saturday. And I'm, like, "Oh no!" For just a second . . . I have a friend who says, "It felt like a God hug." It was, like He said, "You know what? That message that is burned on your heart, I'm burning on other women's hearts, and you are right in the middle of it, and look what I'm doing."

It's so encouraging to see similar things happening all over the world and all over the country. We're like, "Okay, I can identify with that. I know the Lord like they know Him." There's just this sense of belonging to something greater than us. We don't have to know each other or sit across from coffee every week to "get" each other.

So, if anything, it was, "I'm working. I'm doing something bigger than you. So rest in it." So I'm going to let Nancy kind of do the survey of the entire Psalm, and what I'm going to do is focus on two parts that the Lord has really drawn me towards and what He has for me in this season where I am right now.

The first part is going to be those first, I believe, three verses. I'm going to read them one more time.

Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he has redeemed from trouble and gathered in from the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south.

I've loved this psalm, and I've come back to it over and over again. I think part of why I like it is that it's easily . . . I can find myself in this psalm somewhere. Those four circumstances, I've been in every one of those seasons. I've been in the desert where I'm, "Lord, where are You? I'm unsatisfied. I'm dry. I'm hungry. I'm thirsty. Don't You tell me if I hunger and thirst after righteousness, You will fill me? Where are You?" I've been in that desert, and I've felt lonely, and I've felt longing without a sense of fulfillment. I've been there, and He's delivered me. He's led me out.

And then I could see myself in the chains, too. We're all born in chains. We are born coming out of the womb with our . . . I have a friend who wrote a book called Orange Jumpsuit, referring to jail clothes pretty much. We are all born in these little orange jumpsuits. We are all bound toward rebellion. We are bound toward our flesh. We are born with Adam's blood rushing through our veins. And so we all start out in chains, and by God's grace He delivers us, and He grafts us in, and He gives us a good older brother in Jesus. And so longer will we have Adam's blood running through us, but we will have Jesus' blood covering us.

And so I've been in those seasons of chains that have gone even deeper than just being converted where I've had this season of chains passed down from my family, just generational sins, wounds that I've received that I've held on to. So I've had that season of being in chains, and where God bowed my heart down.

He let me feel the weight of my chains. That's what's interesting about that right there is it says, "He bowed their hearts down with hard labor." It didn't say that they were in chains and then He delivered them. It says that they were in chains. I don't think they knew they were in chains, and so God bowed their hearts down so they could look down and see, "Gosh, these are heavy. This isn't what's supposed to be, and I can't break these. I can't take them off. I need You to do it, Father." And so they cried out. I've been there where He bowed my heart down. He grieved me over my sin. So I saw my chains, and I cried out for Him to rescue me.

And then I've been in this season of folly where, and I would describe this, and what I believe is somewhat going on here, is even someone that's been in that season of chains and God delivers them, but then they still act like they have the chains on. They still live a life like they're bound to sin. They still live in the flesh as if they have never been released and freed and no longer bound to the law of sin and death but now alive to the spirit of life, the law of the spirit of life. I've been in that season where I've acted like I still have my chains on.

And then I've been in the storm, and I will get to that part. So I could find myself in all four of those seasons very easily.

I also love it because it's very poetic. There is a lot of imagery. There's a cadence, a rhythm to it. I lead worship. I love singing. I love (when I can and I have the time) writing worship songs and writing songs. So I'm drawn to this because it was set up a little bit more like a worship, a modern worship song because you can see the verses; you can see this refrain.

If you'll notice, there's almost like this repetition of this one verse in particular word for word: "Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress," and "Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man!" That's just like a good song. It's got a cadence, a rhythm. You can find the verses, you hear the chorus, and you can just kind of start singing it with the people that this was originally written to.

So I loved that I could find myself in it; it was poetic; it was like a worship song, and then God has just not let me get away from it.

So I have a dear friend. Her name's Lisa. And if you were in here in the last session, I talked about her. She was my daughter's horse trainer and has now practically become a part of the family. One of the things I love about her that was true before she was saved but now the Lord's, like, refining it, and it's even more beautiful, she's like a kid.

Like, she gets so excited and worked up. She loves George Strait. This is so sad, but this just proves how I love Lisa and I love my family. Because I had a friend whom I asked in December, "Hey, do you get tickets for George Strait?" She kind of has the hook up.

And she said, "Oh, let me check. Okay?"

And I checked in with her one time, and I would have gotten them for free. Any time you're getting something for free, you don't want to be, "Hey, where's my free stuff you promised me?" You want to be grateful and gracious and give them time, give them space.

Well, I never really heard back from her, and so June comes around. June 6 or 7 is when the concert was. It was the cowboy rides away. It was his last one in Dallas, Cowboy Stadium. I was talking about going to my family's reunion that weekend, and she says, "Oh no, wait! I've got those tickets for you. You're not going to a family reunion, are you? I've got these. I thought you wanted these tickets."

I was, like, "Are you kidding me?" I can't believe I missed out on George Strait tickets, on his final . . . Okay. There are not many George Strait fans here, sorry. I love country music and George Strait. I was so bummed.

I just felt like I was supposed to go to my family reunion to minister, honestly, just the ministry of presence, to be there. Some of my family, they're not believers. So the ministry to just have conversation with them. I was, "Lord, I've committed to that."

So guess who got the tickets? Lisa. Lisa got the tickets, and she was undone. She sat with some friends of ours, and they said every time there was a new person to sing . . . Faith Hill sang, and all these different mega country stars came to sing with him. She'd run down to the bottom. She's fifty-two years old, y'all. She'd run down to the bottom, and she would just watch, and she would listen, and she'd go, "Oh, my gosh, it's George Strait!" She just was beside herself.

And it's not just George Strait that does that for her. Anything. She just gets so worked up, so excited. She's got to share it with you. I talked about how she talks a lot. She does, and she knows it, and I tell her. She won't be offended if I say this. But she will just talk and talk and talk because she wants to share this with you.

She'll say, "I'm so excited about what's going on with these horses."

I'm, like, "Lisa, hold on. I just need to know when to pick up Audrey. You can tell me later. I just need to know when to pick her up."

She'll say, "Oh, oh, oh, okay."

But, that's what's kind of going on at this "call to worship." We've got this psalmist, this worship leader saying, "Taste and see that the Lord is good. Give thanks to the Lord for His steadfast love. Look at what He's done in my heart. Look what He's done for these people. Look how good He is. Look, that He delivers, that He redeems. This is a good God."

And so I imagine Lisa, that, "Oh my gosh! This is a good God! Look what He has done for me!"

I pray that I'm like that, that I won't shut up about how good God is and how He has delivered me.

So this is the call to worship. This is Lisa's portion of, "Y'all gotta hear this. You've gotta hear this story. I don't care if you want to know what time to pick up Audrey. I'm telling you this story." And so this is what's happening in this call to worship.

Here's the deal: We're all worshippers by nature. We might not be as demonstrative as Lisa is, but there is something that consumes our minds and our affections. God made us to be worshippers. He made us to see something that is good, that is excellent, and we want to tell people about it. And God made it so that we would look to Him, and we would say, "He is good. He is excellent. He's delivered me. I've got to tell it. I've got to do this. I've got to worship. This needs to be in overflow. I need an outlet for what He's done in me."

So I want to highlight a few words in this call to worship. The first one is LORD. And you'll notice it's in all caps, and this is YHWH. It's the most personal name for God, a name so sacred that the Israelites did not utter it. There are no vowels in it so that they could not say it out loud. It means "I AM who I AM." Most fundamentally, it is "One who is."

As I was studying about this name in particular, YHWH, I came across Exodus 6:2–8. God's really into names, if you haven't noticed that in the Bible. He likes to name people and rename people. And He likes to give His name to us to communicate something about who He is. Names help distinguish, and they help define.

So God purposely introduces Himself, YHWH, to Moses. Here's what it says in Exodus 6:2–8:

God spoke to Moses and said to him, "I am the Lord. I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as God Almighty, but by my name the Lord I did not make myself known to them. I also established my covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, the land in which they lived as sojourners. Moreover, I have heard the groaning of the people of Israel whom the Egyptians hold as slaves, and I have remembered my covenant. Say therefore to the people of Israel, 'I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment.'"

So here's Moses right on the cusp of God's using him to deliver His people. God appears to him and He says, "I AM who I AM. I am not just a covenant-making God. I am a covenant-keeping God."

And I think it's interesting where it says, "But by my name the Lord I did not make myself known to them"—to the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob—which is weird because you look back, and you see the LORD in there. And so what scholars think is going on is though they might have called Him YHWH in their hearts, He had not really made Himself known as that to them in their hearts—if that makes sense.

So they might have known His name, but they didn't know the fullness of that name yet. He was reserving it for a time when He was going to deliver His people. And so He tells Moses, "You tell them I AM."

He is the God of the covenant who will act in a decisive way on behalf of His people. "I will bring you out. I will deliver you. I will redeem you. I will take you to be My people. I will be your God. I will bring you into the land. I will give it to you for a possession."

He's not just a covenant-making God, but the covenant-keeping God.

And so we get an idea where the psalmist is going to go later because he's going to say, "Not El Shaddai, not God Almighty; but YHWH, the God who delivers."

"I AM who I AM." It has this connotation where He makes Himself known to Moses as YHWH at that point in history right before He's going to deliver His people. So that gives a flavor to the rest of the psalm.

And then the next words I want to draw your attention to are steadfast love. The Hebrew word is hessed. This love (and I'm sure I'm not saying that right, but I'm from Texas) is the committed, unchanging, loving determination of the Lord who will never give up on those whom He has chosen for Himself. This love is the committed, unchanging, loving determination of the Lord who will never give up on those whom He has chosen for Himself.

Hessed, translated as steadfast love here, is loyal love involving two parties. It is a strong relational term. That quality that moved the person to act for the benefit of another without respect to the advantage it might bring to the one who expresses it. It is covenantal.

Second Timothy 2:13 comes to mind when I think about hessed. "If we are faithless, he remains faithful for he cannot deny himself."

I get that picture of steadfast love. Hessed in particular is a key theme in the book of Ruth, which is one of my favorite stories. It's where you've got Naomi. She moves with her husband and two sons to a foreign land, to Moab. There she loses her husband.

She has her two daughters-in-law and her sons, but then her sons die. And so she's left alone with her two daughters-in-law. So she decides to go back home and tells the daughters-in-law, "Go back to your homes. I mean, even if I were to marry now and have a son, would you really wait that long?"

She's pretty much lamenting, saying, "Call me bitter. Let me just kind of sit in my ashes and let me just grieve and let me be alone. Y'all go home. I'll be fine."

But Ruth says, "No." And she makes a hessed vow to Naomi. She says, "Where you go, I will go. Your people will be my people. Your God, my God." And so she makes that hessed vow that, "I am committed to you." And she goes.

So they go back to the home town, and they've got to figure out how to make a life. Two women living together, which is amazing just to think that Ruth left what she knew. She could have gone home, but she went with her mother-in-law, of all things. I don't know about you. I love my mother-in-law, and she lived with us for a while. But it's nice to have your own space. I will say that. I love her, though. She's the best mother-in-law.

Can you imagine? Just uprooting and going? But she did. She made that hessed vow. And she found favor in a man named Boaz, who just happened to be someone who could redeem her. Boaz showed hessed to Naomi and Ruth by taking Ruth to be his wife and taking them and redeeming their property, Naomi's husband's property, and her sons' property. And producing an heir through Ruth who became the great-great-grandfather of David.

There's a correlation of steadfast love, hessed and, again, redemption, so that YHWH/redemption, hessed/redemption.

And Ruth is a beautiful portrait of how that works itself out. And so if human hessed can look like that, imagine what heavenly hessed is like. "Even if you're faithless, I will be faithful because I cannot deny Myself." God is faithful to you, to me, even when we blow it—steadfast love.

And then it goes on and says, "Redeemed from trouble." There's a footnote at the bottom of my Bible that says, "Hand of the foe." Just as God has a plan for us, so does the enemy.

He has a plan to steal, to kill, and to destroy. He wants to render us ineffective in the kingdom. He wants to mar the image of God in us. And he wants to keep us spiritually deaf and blind.

First Peter 5:8 says, "Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour."

Second Corinthians 2:11: "So that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs."

Here's the deal: He showed his hand early in the story of the world. He showed it early. He showed it in the garden with Eve and with Adam. And this is what he has in his hand:

Card one: Pretend to be a friend.

If you remember back in the story of Adam and Eve (and if you want to go back there later, the Fall happens in Genesis 3) Satan comes, and he kind of saddles up to her. And he's got this tree with the fruit on it, and he pretends to be her friend. Card one: Satan will saddle up next to you and pretend to be a friend. He'll pretend to be a protector. He'll pretend to look out for you. But don't believe him.

Card two: He will get you to question God's Word.

He'll say, "Did God really say? Did He really say?" That's what he said to Eve. "Did God really say you can't eat fruit from any of the trees?" That's another thing he'll do. He'll sensationalize something that God has made plain and simple. "Really? No tree? Did He really say that?"

Card three: He will prompt you to question God's character. "Can you really believe that God is for you? I mean, Eve, He just really doesn't want you. He's afraid of you. He's afraid that you're going to be like Him."

And here's the irony: She was already like Him. God made her imago dei—in His image. That was His plan for her—to be like Him. But what's Satan's wanting to do is say, "No, you don't want to just be like Him. You need to be Him."

And so, that's card three: Question God's character. "He's not really good. He's holding out because it's better to be Him than to be like Him." Lie.

Card four: Appeal to our flesh.

So, if you remember, Eve sees the fruit, and she's hungry. She's like, "You know, that looks kind of pretty. I think that will satisfy. I think I'll like this fruit. I think I'll take a bite."

So what he does is, he appeals to our flesh. He just massages that flesh. Have you ever been there? You've kind of got that little hang nail, the thing that trips you up every now and then. It's your iniquity.

I know if I'm going this way, this is going to be my thought. This is where I'm going to get tripped up. For me it's looking on Twitter, and I see something, and I'm, like, "Oh, God lets her do that. Why don't I get that? Oh, look at her house. It's so awesome. My house doesn't look that way."

And so he triggers something in me. "Yes, you deserve this house. Yes, you deserve a bigger platform. Yes, you deserve to have that opportunity." So he massages that flesh.

Card five: Every time is death.

He is set on death and destruction. He wants to mar and kill and destroy. And that might result in the death of a relationship. It might result in death of an opportunity. His heart is set on death for you, but God's plan is bigger.

In Genesis 50:20, Joseph says . . . this man who is sold into slavery by his brothers and wronged in all kinds of ways. At the end of his life he says, "As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today."

In Romans 8:28, "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose."

And each circumstance that you'll see in each of these seasons, there's always trouble, a humbling, a cry, and redemption deliverance.

Trouble from the hand of the foe. So our trouble: the desert, chains, folly, the storm.

And then there's the humbling. Hungry and thirsty? Bowed down with hard labor? Loathed any kind of food? At their wit's end? And then there's the cry for Him to save them.

And then deliverance where He rescues them.

I want to kind of take a little bit for a commercial break and go back toward the very end of the psalm to the storm. And it very much has to do with this trouble, humbling cry, and redemption.

Some of you may know my story, the journey that we've been on for the past five years with my husband. The trouble started Thanksgiving 2009. I was just getting dishes ready to take over to my mom's house. I was making breakfast. I'd woken up early, went to Walmart to make sure I had all the ingredients. I was already dressed for the day and it was, like, 8 o'clock in the morning. So this was incredible. I'm not usually that productive. So it was amazing. I felt great.

So I walk in the door, and my husband Matt is in the living room with our three children. Audrey was six at the time, Reed was four, and then Nora was just six months. And they were in there, and I was in the kitchen just getting things ready. And all of a sudden I just heard this crash from the room next door, in the living room. And I thought, It's Audrey. Audrey does gymnastics in our living room. She probably knocked something over. It was probably this mirror that hangs, and she knocked it again.

So I was waiting to hear Matt say, "Hey, Hon, it's okay. Audrey and I are cleaning up. Don't worry." But I didn't hear anything. All I could hear was the TV playing.

And so I walk in, and I can hear the rattling of our fireplace tools, and I see Audrey sitting on the couch, Reed over here, and Nora in her little Johnny Jump-up, and the kids are watching TV.

All of a sudden I hear Audrey say, "Dad?"

He's on the ground in a grand mal seizure. He had fallen down, and his body was just shaking uncontrollably.

And it was sobering to see a man who I'd looked up to in so many ways, who had been so strong for me through my miscarriages, who had been so strong for me through my wrestle with sin, to see him as weak as a newborn baby.

His body kind of calmed down, and I just went over. I'd called the ambulance, and I could hear them turn their sirens on. I yelled at Audrey to go upstairs. It was a blur. My parents came over.

Matt finally calmed down and opened his eyes and looked at me, but there was no recognition. He looked completely through me. And I remember thinking, Dear Lord, is this the rest of my life? Will I be married to a man that is a shadow of who he once was?

And I will say, in all honesty, that He sustained me, and in that moment, I could say, "Even so, even so, I trust You."

And so we got into the ambulance. I could hear just some wrestling in the back, and I eventually go out back there, and I said, "Is there anything I can do to help?" And Matt is swinging punches at me and at the EMTs, and they can't get him calmed down. So I'm holding onto him, talking to him like a baby or a small child, because that's how he looked at me. He couldn't tell who I was. It was like looking at a child.

I said, "You need to stop. They're trying to belt you in. It's okay."

He finally calmed down, and it was a long ride to the ER. But when we got there, they unloaded Matt. He looked at me, and he said, "Hey, Baby, are you okay? What's going on?"

I mean, just relief washed over me, and I said, "Honey, you had a seizure."

His voice broke, and he said, "Oh, my gosh. I'm so sorry."

I remember thinking, Hey, babe, there wasn't much you could do about it.

They wheeled him into the room, and this is the part I feel somewhat bad about, but they gave him some kind of drug to kind of calm him down, but it gave him amnesia. And so we had the exact same conversation six times. And every time it went like this:

"Honey, I mean, it's so weird. I'm, like, waking up in this hospital room. It's so crazy. What happened?"

"Babe, you had a seizure in the living room."

He's like, "Are the kids okay?"

It's like, "Yes, baby, the kids are okay."

And his lip would quiver, and he'd start crying. And then he'd talk. Then all of a sudden he would go, "Man, it's like I woke up in this Emergency Room. What happened?"

And every time I knew he was about to ask about the kids, and the last two times I had to turn my head because I knew he was about to cry, and I didn't want to laugh at him, but it was starting to be comedic. I'm like, "Ahh!"

So, the Lord's little grace in just giving humor in that moment. I'm so grateful.

Finally, the story stuck, and his brain caught it. He had a CT scan, and they saw something. He had an MRI to look further, and they identified a mass in his right frontal lobe. And they said, "Mr. Chandler, you need to get in to see a neurosurgeon as soon as possible."

So we went home that day. My mom had saved us a couple of plates of Thanksgiving dinner, and it just didn't taste like it had in years past. It just wasn't as satisfying.

So the next few days were anxious. We got in to see a neurosurgeon who, by God's grace, is a brother in Christ, a godly man named David Barnett. He met with us on Tuesday. So that was a Thursday, Tuesday he met with us. And he said, "This is serious, and I've made room on my schedule for Friday to operate."

So, in one sense I was relieved because I was like, "We have a plan of action." I felt like . . . I don't know what it was except the Holy Spirit put it in my heart to say, "This is good and right. Let's get this done. This needs to be out."

Matt, on the other hand, whose brain it was that was going to be cut on, was a little bit more anxious. Imagine that. He was anxious about, "Who am I going to be? And what if I don't make it? And if I don't make it, what will my children say about God?"

He was more concerned about their faith than he was about his life. He wanted to make sure that they did not charge God with wrong. Yes, we believed that the Lord allowed this into our life, but we didn't want them to become bitter that they would not trust the Father because the Father had taken theirs. We didn't want that for them.

And so we prayed, and we pleaded, and we gathered our friends together the night before, and we prayed and worshipped. Then he went into an eight-hour surgery, and they completely removed the tumor. He came out into the ICU, and his eyes were kind of quivering, but he still had his humor intact, which is interesting. He was cracking jokes. His voice was weak, but he was cracking jokes. I remember seeing him the first time, his head wrapped in gauze. And simultaneously, I wanted to be right there with him, but I also wanted to run outside into the hallway and just break down in tears. But I stood there, and I fed him ice chips.

Over the course of a few weeks, he gained strength. He was weak in his left side, but he was able to walk again. If you've ever heard him, you know he's very dynamic. But he was monotone, which is crazy. It's crazy to think. He had just no emotion demonstrated on his face. But slowly over the weeks, he came back to being Matt.

He went through radiation for six weeks, chemo for eighteen months, and I can say, because of God's grace, he is, five years later, cancer free, and praise God for that. (Applause) And it is a miracle because they told me, when they finally got the pathology report back, they said two to three years, and it's been five.

And here's the deal: I know that's not the case for everyone in this room, and I know that you were given two to three years, and it was one. And you were given two to three years, and it was weeks. And I want to say, no matter the outcome, He's good.

And that's what, in this storm, these were just people. They were guys just doing their job. They were working on their ship, and God brought a storm out of nowhere. They didn't do anything to deserve it. It's just part of the job hazard. And that's how it is for us. It's a hazard of life that there are storms, that there is pain, that there is trouble from the hand of the enemy.

But here's something awesome: Right before Matt had the seizure, the Lord led me to Job 1. I had sat down to just study something in John, and I flipped open my Bible, and it landed to Job 1. And I was, "Oh, Lord . . . really?"

But I started reading it. I'm going to read what I wrote November 30, 2009. So this was after the seizure, before the surgery, but I'm referring to something that happened before the seizure.

The Blog entry: (In the blog, I have a picture of our little family, and the photographer took it at an angle that the setting sun was, like, right here, and it was just gloriously radiant. I mean, it's just this beautiful, sunspot, gorgeousness radiance coming out right there and our little family beside it.) I said:

We had this picture taken well before our world was turned upside down by Matt's seizure and the news of a mass in his brain. I can't help but imagine that brilliant light as God's sure presence. The Sunday before the event, I opened my Bible, intending to study a specific text in John. When the pages fell open, the title page of the book of Job stared me squarely in the face.
I'm not normally the one to play the magic eight-ball game with the Bible, but I'm also not one to believe in mere coincidence. The Lord, in His sure presence, was readying my heart. He was reminding me that nothing, absolutely nothing could happen to Matt, the kids, other loved ones, or me without first passing through His hands. Satan had to ask permission to sift Job. The prince of this world is but a pawn in the Lord's plan. This mass, tumor, whatever it is, is but an agent to bring Him greater glory and us greater joy.
Matt and I were both encouraged to read this Scripture from a brother in Christ:
"For the righteous will never be moved; he will be remembered forever. He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord. His heart is steady; he will not be afraid, until he looks in triumph on his adversaries" (Ps. 112:6–8).

He is but a pawn in the Lord's hand. In Job, when all this befalls him, when his world literally falls apart, it says that he tore his robes. He said, "Blessed is the LORD who gives and takes away. Naked I came from my mother's womb, naked I will return" (paraphrase).

So he blesses the Lord, for the giving and the taking, which sounds a little scandalous, but then it goes on, and it says, "And he did not charge God with wrong."

So there is this mystery of God's steadfast love, His hessed, letting some things come through His hands to us that will work a purpose for our good and His glory. His steadfast love is not disconnected from that but is very vital to it. He is "I AM who I AM," and He will redeem you from trouble.

In that text about the men on the ships, it says that they cried out. They were at their wit's end. They cried out to the Lord, and He brought them to their desired haven.

And here's the truth: The desired haven is not an outcome—it's Jesus. The desired haven, our only refuge, our only sure hope and strength is in Him.

As Joni said last night, and it will forever be seared on my heart about that steadfast love. Those things He lets come through—that storm, that desert, the chains that He breaks, all those things—they're to slough away that stuff that's in the way from us bonding to Him.

I realize as I'm speaking these words, it is scary. I want a pain-free life. I don't want to suffer, and I don't want to see the people I love suffer. But more than I want a pain-free life, and more than I don't want suffering, I want Him. He is my only true haven.

I pray for you, that you would know Him the same. A good, loving God who has steadfast love for His people, who uses all things to work for good for those whom He has called according to His purpose.