Revive Our Hearts Podcast

The Steadfast Love of the Lord, Day 2

Leslie Basham: Lauren Chandler reminds you that God is more important than your own ease and comfort.

Lauren Chandler: 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.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of A Place of Quiet Rest, for Friday, July 28, 2017.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Yesterday, we heard part one of a message from Lauren Chandler. She talked about the steadfast love of the Lord from Psalm 107—one of my favorite psalms.

We all need to lean on the Lord when we fail, when other people fail us, and when life circumstances seem overwhelming. Lauren is the wife of Pastor Matt Chandler from The Village Church in the Dallas area.

She knows the pressures that come from feeling weak, from dealing with tough situations with people, and from the crises that arise from everyday life. But she is here to remind us, we can always lean on the steadfast love of the Lord.

Here's Lauren talking about Psalm 107. If you are in a place where you can do that, I encourage you to open your Bible and follow along. Part of that passage says, "Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom He has redeemed from trouble." Lauren reminds us that we have an enemy who wants to use trouble to discourage us from seeking the Lord. Here's Lauren.

Lauren: 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, Reid 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, Reid 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 hesed, 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.

Nancy: We've been listening to Lauren Chandler. She's been sharing some of the struggles she's experienced in the past few years. She'll be back in just a moment to pray.

She delivered that message at True Woman '14, a conference that Revive Our Hearts hosted. Then she wrote a book on the same topic. It’s called Steadfast Love. I hope you’ll get a copy and do a deeper exploration of Psalm 107 and the steadfast love of the Lord. When you face trials or storms, this psalm will prepare you and show you how to lean on Christ as your solid anchor. When you support Revive Our Hearts with a financial gift you help make sure the program keeps coming to you each weekday.

And to say thanks for that support, we’d like to send you this book by Lauren, Steadfast Love. Ask for it when you call 1–800–569–5959, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com. Next week we’ll begin a study of the letters that Jesus wrote to the churches to begin the book of Revelation. His messages to the church back in that day have a lot to say to us today. I hope you’ll join us for the start of that series Monday.

Now, here's Lauren Chandler to close our time, praying that we will rest in the steadfast love of the Lord—even when life doesn't go the way we had planned.

Lauren: Father, I'm well aware that this that I bring is heavy. It is scary. Even now I tremble to speak it because I am afraid of what it might cost me. Because I've spoken it to these sisters, it has to be proven in my life, and that's scary. But I trust You. I trust that even when it's hard, even when the scan's not clear, that You will sustain me, that You are more than enough.

You are all I need. May that be true always. It's in Your name, Jesus, I pray, amen.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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