Transcipt: Matt Chandler Interview

Transcipt: Matt Chandler Interview October 18, 2019

The transcript of my interview with Matt Chandler follows, thanks to the Descript app. Earlier this week we posted audio and video of this interview.

Adrian: Okay. Well, hello everyone. My name is Adrian Warnock. For those of  you who don’t know me. I’m sure most people probably well aware of my guest today  I must admit it’s been a little while since I’ve done one of these web interview. So I hope I’m not too what should I say stale but and very nice to welcome to this Channel  Matt Chandler so Matt and thank you for joining us.

Matt: Good to be back. It’s been a long time since we’ve gotten the  chance to catch up really so.

Adrian: Yeah, that’s right. So today we’re going to talk about some pretty serious stuff. We’re going to talk about suffering and I’m not talking about the sort of thing where you’re going shopping and you can’t get that parking space you’re praying for us and Matt I realized when I Was preparing for this that it’s almost exactly 10 years ago now since one Thanksgiving Day you you obviously had your collapse. And you know diagnosed with brain cancer and I remember well both watching the blogs at that time and being quite impacted by that and thank you for sharing such personal material with us all those years ago and then coming to Jubilee and having privilege of interviewing you and also hearing you in the congregation. There I was 10 years ago. I’ll never forget you looking out and saying look, you know, you think you described it as having like an axe hanging over you. And and you said but the only difference between me and you is that I know it and I remember thinking that I get it I get it. But obviously to myself two and a half years ago now I really did start to get it with my own sort of cancer experience. I really thought it’d be great to have a chat with you today about some of that and about your new book which I must show now just so I remember.  I know you’re not supposed to judge a book by it’s cover, but I do like this one the sort of the darkness of the suffering with the sort of glimmer of joy,  years agoglimmer of light coming in there. I’m not very good at holding this up, but I think that’s the idea. So Matt Chandler and friends and Joy in sorrow. So before we get into that though Mac, may I just ask you? You know, how are you now 10 years on and where are you at both sort of in terms of physically and also how you look back on it now ten years ago

Matt: yeah, well those are. I mean, I guess those are both pretty big questions. I physically feel amazing. I mean it’s amazing as a 45 year old with three children still at home and a large Network, you know, and so so physically feel great. Looking back on it. I think there are yeah, I think it can come in waves and in different ways one immense gratitude for That season an earnest desire to not do it again to learn new lessons in a new way.

Adrian: So that’s interesting because I’ve wanted to pick you up on that actually because one thing that you you do catch some some sort of tracks from the reformed. I think what’s interesting things to both you and I as we come from both the reform background and the charismatic background sort of blend the both and so perhaps were exposed and strengths and weaknesses of both sides and certainly on the reform side and some people almost like welcome suffering is quite interesting to me to hear that you don’t sort of say, you know, give me more

Matt: Yeah, I know. I appreciate it very much my season in the Valley of the shadow of death and if. If you would be so kind as to not is to teach me another way in the future. I would I would love that though. So no, I’m not I’m not looking for it, but I can now probably say I’m not afraid of it. And I don’t know that I was afraid of it back then. I was more just naive like you you or explain even your own experience with what I said a decade ago. I mean, that’s probably where I was here. I was trying to teach a congregation how to Suffer Well, and for whatever reason I wasn’t thinking in any of that. But that had anything to do with me.

I was just a vessel being used by the Lord to teach and prepare people but in God’s kindness he was preparing me right? I couldn’t see it that way until it was my turn. So, yeah that yeah, I certainly can look back with a great deal of gratitude looking at. I think a kind of resilience he built in me in that season.

Like if you survive brain cancer a lot of the stuff that’s overwhelming people in this day and age they don’t they don’t affect me as much as I thought they would so like if a Twitter mob goes after me. I just I just tend to think I’m going to be all right, because once you. Once you’ve been in that space where you think you’ve got two years to live and you know that your kids are going to grow up without you and that your wife’s going to probably gonana  marry another man, and that you’re going to stand in front of you know, God Almighty and then like once you once you walk through that Valley it put some things in perspective that that everybody knows.

But but doesn’t really know and I think you can appreciate that now in a unique way that you know it theologically, you know it, you know the text the teacher even in some way maybe. Maybe get get some of it into your guts. But the man until you’re on the precipice, you know until you’re the one leaning over that Chasm and and saying by faith that man it had better be about grace alone, or I’m in a lot of trouble.

I don’t know that you can you can be as transformed by it as maybe the Lord intends.

Adrian: It’s almost like there’s a sort of I was joking about it the other day with somebody it’s almost like. The Illuminati, you know, the enlightened ones, you know that that actually majority of people. In certainly in Western Society now and it’s historically and Geographic geographically unusual, of course because this wouldn’t be true.

If you were living in many parts of the world where  childhood mortality was high  , your women could die in childbirth and then  you and I would be old, you know, we’d be considered old and in many parts of the world and obviously historically, before vaccines and things like that, you know one in four children would have died in childhood, so.

I guess we’re more aware of their own mortality than most people stay. And so I don’t know. It’s almost like, you know, the veil has been lifted a little bit when you’ve stared into that

Matt: Yeah, it also it works in all sorts of ways to like you can know all the passages you want about marriage. But it’s not till you’re married that they you start to feel the weight of them or understand them more fully right at you like you.

Can you give me a beautiful exposition of love your wife like Christ loved the church, right? And then he gave himself up for her right? You can give me a beautiful exposition of that. And not have experience the weight of what it means to actually live that out within a covenant bond with a woman and so my experience with suffering was that I knew the passages.

I knew the doctrine. I think I could do great exposition on what God’s intent in it is at times and how he leverages and uses it for our good but man it’s a different thing than when you’re on your bathroom floor trying to muster up enough strength to vomit again. I mean, that’s just a  different place that you’re in the fire the scriptures are coming alive to you and to great comfort, you know coming a lot of noise and bring great comfort so.

Adrian: Yeah, I guess one of the things I sort of sometimes wonder about this. I mean I used to know a pastor who was in a wheelchair and in agony from Ankylosing Spondylitis, and he described it for him. You know, he didn’t used to bother to have his mouth numbed if he’s going to have dental treatment as he said the pain of that was nothing compared to the pain. You know getting dressed every day when his wife’s dressing but he served as a joy-filled pastor. I remember him well in the Family Church some parts of in the early days and he would preach and he would teach and he would pastor and would counsel and I often wondered about what it must feel like for someone going in to see him.

You know, I don’t know with some sort of problem. I don’t know. I’m having a difficulty time at work either with my boss or whatever whatever and just looking at this guy. I’m thinking yeah, maybe my problem is not quite so big but the flip side of that was wondering is as a pastor, you know, how you obviously have to counsel people have big problems and small. So how do you make sure that you don’t just kind of almost demean?

Matt I think pain in a real way is relative based on an individual’s experiences and how they’re wired and how they’re so I. But for me, it’s not because people would and still always couch in those kind of meetings. Like this is nothing like what you went through but I’m like, okay, but you’re still in a very real way suffering.

So let’s I don’t know that suffering is a game where like if you score and you’re like really suffering, but if you’re in an eight-point that’s you know, just get over it’s right. And so I don’t know that I’ve ever I don’t know that I’ve ever had to kind of wrestle through that it just feels like suffering and then I wouldn’t have known anything greater. The what what what I would probably consider now in my life to be small little pain points until you know, ten years ago. And so someone’s on if you’re kind of trying to scale it like if you’re 32, and nothing bad has ever happened to you and everything you touch turns to gold and all your relationships are beautiful and you write and then all of a sudden you come down with asthma.

And you’re not able to work out like you still work out and you’re not able to play with your kids like you want to now all of a sudden like that is like life-altering for you and can create a ton of suffering. But but you wouldn’t necessarily go. Hey, but this guy in the church, you know, he’s got that late stage Parkinson’s as a 40 year old and he’s got it so much worse than you so really it’s worse.

I want to try to pastor the individual that can feel overwhelmed because up until that point in their life. This is the most immense season of suffering that they’ve endured and so that’s how I’ve always tried to learn to see it and try to navigate it so that I don’t. Just feel like “oh come on man. Get over it.” This is small in comparison to the way other people suffer. Because in that case, I mean you could even take my brain cancer go. Oh, give me a break bro what you know, 18 months of high-dose chemo. I mean, there are people live their whole lives and right there. If you try to create a level, you know, like Varsity level suffering and and minor league suffering mostly suffering then the really you’re unable to Shepherd and Pastor people where they are.

Adrian: For some reason that makes me think of Star Wars that line there is always the bigger fish, remember that?

Matt: Yeah, I do!

Adrian: That is true, isn’t it? Because you sort of feel like oh, you know, you’ve got to this kind of level and and of course the other thing is sometimes it’s the small things that I’m do you and the big things don’t undo you and or there can be a moment.

I mean, you might be sailing along fine and then suddenly… I mean one thing I know for me personally probably the hardest point for me was when I got to the end of my chemo and they were saying hey, you know, it’s looking great in terms of the cells the cells that seemed to have been. You know largely controlled it probably will come back at some point blah blah blah, but it’s at this point in remission, but I didn’t feel better, you know, and and so that was a bit difficult for me and I guess that’s still where I’m gonna be bit.

But I mean that really hit me hard some ways harder than some of the other points and I suppose everyone does respond differently to the different points.

Matt: Yeah, yeah for sure. And so I think to approach the person and not the pain itself is probably the most pastoral shepherding approach is okay. You certainly are suffering.I don’t want to kind of scale that I do want to kind of meet you where you are in this pain and what are you wrestling with in life and and honestly the majority of the time I’m just trying to be present. I’m trying to fix there’s a kind of pain that you can’t fix and that a lot of your kind of a lot of the ways. You might try to fix that and do more damage than good.

Adrian: Could you elaborate on that for a minute? Because I do think that there’s a lot of questions sort of thought and action and sort of perhaps overly simplistic counseling or postel teaching that does do that. What’s the most harmful thing

Matt: Well, I think that depending on you know, whether they were selling my reformed brothers or some of my charismatic Brothers those

Adrian: Let’s talk about both. Hit guns both ways

Matt: They’re different in the way they approach so I think that. Some that would be on the more charismatic non reformed side would like put it on me to just believe hard enough, which I thought was just like a horrible thing. To try to do to put it on me to believe hard enough as though that’s how Faith Works and then I found my more reformed Brothers like didn’t know how to pray with any expectancy or without kind of creating these caveat to give God a way out if he decided in as well not to heal me.

So it’s like they were trying to protect God’s there’s very little boldness and expectancy in their prayers and a lot of kind of what felt to me at the time trite one-liners. Or Spurgeon quotes or you know, I’ve learned to kiss the rock that throws me on the I’ve learned to kiss the wave that throws me on the rock, you know?

Yeah, praise God. Yeah, but I’m that’s not can you just be here with me right now because this really really sucks. So I think those were some of the errors and and I think just it was an unfixable situation right? I mean I had. Primary brain cancer is it is incurable? Is it two to three years?

I’ve got a my oldest was a six-year-old at the time had a six-month-old and man all of that stuff just felt right even the things that were true felt, right and I didn’t in that moment need to be lectured. What I needed is just presence and so that’s. That’s what I try to do. Now more than anything is just be there.

And so sometimes that’s just plain cards other times that’s just hanging around for a while and you know, spending an hour or two in the room and just be in there so that that that some of the ways that I thought were really. And on both sides really unfair and well-meaning. I think both very well meaning that no one was trying to be malicious.

Nobody tries to be malicious to people who are suffering. I mean, I guess I’m sure there’s cases where they are but no one tried to be malicious to me and part of it was my own journey of my own space and where I was at the time and so I think people get weirded out by suffering and sorrow they don’t really know what to do with it.

We live in such a kind of Happy clappy. Don’t post that on Instagram. If it’s not perfect culture that when there’s real struggle and real suffering people don’t know how to enter into it. So they fill the space with noise or things that they think they should say or and so part of its a discipleship issue where we haven’t really discipled people well how to love others well in suffering so.

Adrian: On the positive side then I mean you sort of said it a little bit. I guess you’re saying a little bit like Job’s friends ready that they were there was only when they open their mouths…

Matt: Yeah, I think I mean, I think that’s a fair assessment. I think they were doing really really well until they spoke.

Adrian: really interesting thing is that  I do think some people struggle to spend time with someone who’s in hospital or suffering or whatever precisely because they don’t know what to say and maybe actually they don’t need to say anything.

Matt: Yeah, I’d like I had two friends that flew in one from St. Louis one up from Austin and when they came to my house and sat with me one evening and had dinner in this was in one of the darker seasons of it where I was still trying I was still super discombobulated by the prognosis and the treatment plan that was in front of us. We hadn’t really started it yet.

And then those Brothers just came up and just sat in my living room with me I couldn’t tell you. One thing that we talked about other than just kind of how life was for them. And what was going on with their kids and how their things were going in their churches and where their own Souls were and then we had a meal together and they prayed over me and then they left and for whatever reason for everything that happened in that season that stands out as a night where men the Lord really comforted me and kind of gave me a sense that things were going to be okay regardless

Adrian: Do you feel that people who’ve experienced suffering can often find it easier to come to others?

Matt: Well, I think there’s no question that that’s true. I think you you’ll have a natural empathy as you remember what it’s like to feel alone, even though you’re not alone and in the deeper Parts wrestle with anxiety as much as you wrestle with anxiety or you you finally learned. Hey, this isn’t a this isn’t a war I get to win. It’s just a battle I get to fight on anxiety. And so you can feel like I am and I’ve got members of our church. Like I know one this week later this afternoon that’s going in for a scan and so I’m going to send him a text here in a little bit because I just know what scanned day is like.

So I think people who have endured suffering will have a really Compassionate Heart for others that do especially those who have endured it for an extended season because they’ve ridden the waves of it’s going to be. All right, and then oh my gosh, is this the rest of my life and so those are. Those are waves that anyone who suffers for a long period of time experiences, they’ll have a day or a week or even a month where the like it’s going to be. Alright, the Lord has me I’m safe in his hands and and then like David in the Psalms you turn the pages like how long O Lord. Will you forget me forever?

Is this really going to be the rest of my life, you know, will I ever feel strong again? Will I ever feel and and so you. When you ride those waves concurrent like you ride one, then you ride the other and you do it again and then you do it again and then you do it again, you you develop some sort of muscle in regards to empathy that really helps you love other people who are in similar situations because you know, Like, you know when they’re despairing that you don’t need to quote Romans 8:28 to him that you know where they are.

They’re on this way. So you’re just present and you can just sympathize. I remember I hate this for you. I’m so sorry. Is there anything I can do anything? When they’re on the wave of God’s Got Me guys, you just praise God with them. So there’s that you can Rejoice with those who rejoice and you can mourn with those who mourn right without not you don’t need to correct either one of those waves, right?

You just get to be present and them, you know, I don’t think you really know that if you have not been there did you certainly don’t know it a. Kind of a gut level I can feel feeling right now and I don’t know that everybody needs to be able to feel at a gut level. I can feel what you’re feeling now to be a good friend to be present suffering to Rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn but I do think that if you have endured you’re more apt to be able

Adrian: Yeah, I’m one of the verses that Springs to mind is in Corinthians isn’t and I’m going to quote this all wrong.

I’m sure perhaps you can correct me if your Bible knowledge is better than mine. But you know where talks about the God God being the God of All Comfort who comforts us in our troubles so that we can Comfort others and one of things that’s interesting about that versus it doesn’t say. In the same troubles that we’ve had so many obviously, you know, your situation is different to my but also actually other things, you know, like I don’t know divorce or you know other problems that were all these kinds of things.

I’ve certainly found that his people have really suffered in one way or another have been able to empathize more and I felt you know, they’ve sort of been able to get it share comfort for me. Would you see that as well?

Matt: Yeah, I see it really in the life of our church with with those who have endured this kind of loss or this kind of loss this kind of suffering to this kind of suffering.

They honestly make that the best kind of. After care Shepherds for the life of the church that there is something there’s something I think unique given to them as they have found that comfort in the dark and they see other people in the dark they’re able to come alongside and go I know it’s dark in here, but it gets light again.

Adrian: Cuz I think it was Rick Warren who said he doesn’t like hiring people for his church,

Matt: Yeah,

Adrian: some sort of suffering

Matt: You guys heard him. I heard him say that. Yeah, I don’t know how you would be an interview.

Adrian: Yes, it would.

Matt: Tell me about the darkest season of your life before we hire you. So and maybe that’s a great question.

Adrian: Yeah, because I mean what this flip side of his tweet that he mentioned about it that I saw a few years ago was that he said that those who haven’t significantly soften tend to be a bit sort of twee and a bit kind of dismissive of other people’s sufferings of the kind of idea that he was saying but like what we were  saying , like I don’t know for example on the anxiety thing, you know, there are verses aren’t that it says Cast your anxiety on him for he cares for you and that to me that’s a process. I think you were describing that it takes maybe a year maybe a decade, you know, maybe your life  . Whereas I think a lot of people read that verse today and sort of like instant coffee where you know, we get annoyed if there’s more than one person ahead of us in the queue at Starbucks or whatever and we still think we’ll come on, you know chop chop, you know, this is what we supposed to done instantly and you shouldn’t be anxious. You shouldn’t  be depressed you shouldn’t be mourning even.

Matt: Yeah,  other than justification. I’m not sure of anything that happens spiritually in an instant. I think all of its I mean almost all of its process. Which is why the Lord asks us to be so gracious to one another. It’s very few things like and one of the you know, my charismatic side loves breakthrough and that moment where the spirit of God just kind of Kingdom like is just visible manifest and profound ways. But I’ll teach most consistently the biggest things that the Lord is going to accomplish in your life are going to take place over a long period of time without you much knowing that he’s doing it so that 10 years from now, you’ll look back on where you are now and where you are then and you’ll be stunned at how much God has grown you and how much more you love them and how much more you love is word and how much Freedom you’re walking in.

And and so that that’s the normative way that the Lord sanctifies his people. That’s what we see in the New Testament. That’s what we see really throughout the whole of scriptures not and then these moments of massive breakthrough that I want us to pray for and fast for and ask God for but. But God works overtime and and the Caster anxieties on him.

He cares for you isn’t like you did that great. Okay. Now let’s move on. It’s I mean, it’s that that’s something you cast your anxieties and then two hours from now, you kinda need to cast your anxiety again, and then the next day let’s do it again and then four hours later, let’s do it again.

It’s not like this kind of one time and then it’s done idea. Again, that goes a lot back to like we don’t like to talk about suffering and sorrow we don’t like to talk about death. They’re like really taboo subjects in a day and age of where there’s so much media and there’s so many ways to Brand ourselves and we don’t even know that we struggle emotionally or that we are racked with anxiety or.

Unless and this is the flip side of that coin and less that’s kind of become our identity and the way that that we want to be known and seen But but but ultimately yeah, I think processes is how the Lord shapes his people.

Adrian: than about yourself in terms of materials, it hasn’t been that many really sort of solid good books out there in the one I’ve I’ve recently read was  Tim Keller’s book  took months to read that and it’s think about that idea of Journey and it’s an ongoing process.

So there are times for many people when and perhaps spiritually they almost feel that they’ve taken a step back you something. Hang on. I’m supposed to be. Growing spiritually, but this thing is actually called into question the whole Faith you’re sort of looking at a single. Do I really believe this, you know, all of that kind of stuff that goes on I think sometimes people can but they can actually lose their faith at that moment can’t they and walk away.

Matt: Yeah, I certainly think that there’s a refining element to suffering that they’re really especially if they you know, the the infirmity is if it if it’s going to be. Mortal, so if you’re told you’re going to die and you’ve got a disease that that ends in death, I mean the kind of I think soul-searching you do in a moment like that is is really significant.

I think we’re I’ve seen more people lose heart and and maybe drop out of the faith. I want to give them a little bit more time. Is that kind of long-term? Man, they’ve been prayed for a thousand times. They’ve been to every doctor on Earth. They’ve been too and still the pain persists and and they eventually just you know, God doesn’t hear he doesn’t love if there is one.

He certainly doesn’t care for me kind of Crisis that over a long period of time. I’m in the one I’m thinking of over two decades which is even as I think about her. Like to try to get my mind around two decades of debilitating pain every day and you know, some of the most gifted men and women on earth praying for and just seeing nothing get better that that that creates a bit of a crisis and and how you Minister and that’s part of you know, there’s not a verse she doesn’t know or you know a quote she hasn’t heard of. But man, it it it makes my heart heavy for people that have to endure That season and and it is one thing to get our eyes up and look to Glory but we’re getting our eyes up from where we are. And then you’re young and youngish and that’s been the last 20 years and human 20 more years of it.

That’s a hard. It’s a hard go.

Adrian: Also the change is the shock, isn’t it? Because I mean for many of us we get so much about identity out of. You know what we do and I’m sure that was to be anything for you. You know, like you’re there you are. I remember thinking myself when I heard about it a lot. This  guy. He’s leading this great church, you know, if anyone quote quote deserves to be to be free of this suffering it’s in because look he’s giving his life all these people getting saved and the church is growing and then wow you and it can be such a shock you sort of thing. Why does God allow this to happen?

It’s almost like we think we’ve got a deal with God somehow that he won’t let that sort of thing happen. So.

Matt: Yeah, in fact, I remember when the so my tumor was in the right frontal lobe and I remember when dr. Barnett it was ended up being my surgeon that took it out was explaining to me the functions of the right frontal lobe and him saying well, it’s.

If you’re going to have a brain tumor this is where you want it and I was like, wow, thank you. I well I’m glad that’s where it is. And then he began to describe the right frontal lobe does a lot of spatial reasoning which is where you kind of look at an idea and then you file it away and I just remember thinking.

Oh my gosh, that’s all I do. That’s the only that’s like the only gift I have is to be able to see information and file it and and order it and communicate it a specific way. So. Man, it’d be better if it was in a different location in that location. And then so I remember there being some pretty.

yeah, I was I was pretty shook at what might be happening simply because of the fact that. Am I ever going to be strong again? Am I ever going to have the energy levels that I’ve had am I going to be able to think the way I’ve been able to think I’m gonna be able to do some of the things I love such as reading and kind of like a detective digging around to get to the bottom of this question that I have concerning the Lord concerning, you know, this Doctrine concerning how do I communicate this clearly and simply to people so that they can own it and love Jesus more and so there is a bit of a crisis in that moment where you’re.

The way that you’ve done life the way that Lauren and I would talk about is we got to find The New Normal. What is the new normal look like for us because there was this normal and in an instant it was gone and you want to I mean like in an instant in in a I got out of bed. I. Gave my daughter a bottle.

I put her in her little Johnny Jump Up thing and then everything changed about our routines about our diet about what we could and couldn’t do and then for the next few years that dominated that new normal dominated our lives and it wasn’t like we got to grow into it. It was like it’s here and it’s got to be addressed now, so it is quite jostling.

Adrian: Yeah, and I guess for many people, you know, our identity is what we do and you can lose that and I was similar, you know, literally got off a train on the way home my legs buckled. I suddenly felt really breathless diagnosed with pneumonia and it was then. that they discovered what was wrong with me and you know, I’m not able to work at the moment.

No, no idea whether I’ll get back struggling with that kind of concentration and mental energy type of things still. So I guess even for me personally just kind of selfishly that moment, you know, it’s very easy sometimes to sort of think. Well, you know is where is the meaning and purpose in life when you can’t do those things you want to do. Any thoughts ?

Matt: I and again this is where I think the Lord’s kindness to me was and we write about this quite a bit in the book that I have been trying to prepare this very young congregation for suffering because of the kind of suffering we were enduring and you can read all the stories about that in the book, but the.

Like the Lord’s kindness to me was that in the middle of all these tragedies we were enduring as a very young congregation. We predominantly in our 20s, maybe our old our old folk were you know, my age now 45 40 45 you like old people are here, but the like as I was trying to get them ready to suffer the Lord is getting me ready.

And so I had at a theological theoretical level done the homework and and had some of the kind of foundational Moorings that I would need in this season to stop that fall because I remember the floor falling out from under me and it took about 48. 72 hours for me to land again and one of the places some of the places that I landed where those places that I have been preaching to our congregation to believe and remember these things for the day of trouble.

And and so that was the Lord’s kindness to me is that I’d spent all this time trying to get this young congregation ready and never even thought oh, I’m getting myself ready, but that’s what the Lord was doing in his kindness.

Adrian: What would be the kind of top three or four things that you would really want to ram home for some if you only had two minutes or so

Matt: Yeah, you know the I think the overwhelming one for me was that regardless of regardless of the type of suffering or the timing of suffering I need only look to the Cross to see that God’s love for me is a very real thing.

In in these spaces where I won’t be able to understand why and how this thing’s because you know, the thing that we’ll always fascinated me about Job is that God never really answered any of these questions. He just said hey, where were you? Got some questions for you? So the lesson there in job is Hey listen, there’s some things you’re just not going to see and you’re not going to be able to understand and then man  you won’t ever be able to make sense of and it’s going to look strange to you. You know, why because your your finite and I’m. And but if you look to the Cross you can see that my love for you is it is just you should not doubt it that this is the price that’s been paid for my glory your joy are your salvation?

I have bought you with a price and so that truth in particular for me that the cross bids me repeatedly to come back to the fact that God. Loves me as adopted me as a son cares for me. And therefore what I am doing is not punitive. I am not being punished by God with brain cancer because I didn’t have a more consistent quiet time or that one guy didn’t share the gospel with on the plane that I should have or because of this or because of that or man, I should have given more of my money or I you know, I shouldn’t be in the place of comfort that I’m in or I’m right.

It just eradicates those thoughts. To be reminded by looking to the cross for the comfort of knowing that I am a priest in the kingdom of God. I am an heir to the promise. I’ve been bought with a price and the cross shows me that all those things are true the cross and the empty tomb right and and so of all the things that I taught in the Years leading up to my own diagnosis, it was that that caught me.

After the Exodus in The Exodus where the the people are like have you delivered us out of bondage just to kill us in the desert Moses. You know, why didn’t you let us know and and I could do that in me right where the Lord did not save me. To himself to abandon me and destroy me in this Wilderness and and that was more of an ancillary one.

But to me, it was just the cross and the resurrection did me to believe that God loves me in Jesus Christ. And therefore this is not his wrath but some kind of mercy and I’m just not going to probably get to understand that and honestly this I’m a decade later. I don’t know that I understand all the intricacies I can see more clearly now how he used that season.

In me and how he used that season another’s but but it’s still there’s still quite a bit of mystery to me and in that season and what exactly that was.

Adrian: One thing that people sometimes struggle with is the idea that not just that God uses it but that God somehow allows it and that certainly seems to be big because sovereignty of God that he’s all-powerful he could stop things or you could.

But also some people are even a step further than that and less feel that God is almost as the author of it. And as you say you can see there these punishing or enjoying or somehow actually, it’s his best for us it did you struggle with those thoughts sometimes or.

Matt: Um, yeah, I I don’t I don’t think I did struggle with those particular trying to think through the earlier days the earlier days the men that I had.

You know to really dark years and then we started just getting good news after good news after good news. And that’s where we are today, right? I still have to go in for scans and the scans can’t come back clean or not watching anything we say that we watching for something so I don’t go in because I’ve got a little tumor left there making sure it’s not growing I’m going in to make sure there’s not a new tumor because that tumor is gone.

Some kind of think back in the the early two years. My season I don’t know that that was one in particular. I think the thing that I struggle most with most with and I and again I write about this in the the last chapter that I ride in the book is more about the lessons. I learned in the season but one of the things the cert the the spirit surfaced in me was just some real self righteousness because I was wondering why it was me and not some other people.

And some very specific people that I knew were the story I tell is there was a guy there was a Serial adulterer to horriffic man. Narcissistic said the most terrible things to his beautiful daughters. I mean just wreaking havoc and I remember thinking really me. I’m the one that’s got cancer. This guy’s gonna continue to do what he’s doing and I.

I don’t get to walk. My daughter’s down the aisle. I don’t get to like really Lord and and I call myself in the moment and just realized how horrible of a thought that was and how self-righteous I was being and so that I’ve struggled more in those spaces, I think.

Adrian: Very good. Well, I’m conscious I’ve taken them off a lot of your time, but just going back to the book for a minute and this book ten years on why now, and what are the key things for someone to take is this a book that someone suffering or for a book for everyone to prepare for suffering or bit

Matt: Yeah, I think it’s a probably a bit of both.

It’s not just my story. It’s the story of several other men and women here at The Village Church who endured specific seasons and that’s everything from loss of a child’s to loss of a spouse to long-term suffering, too. Emotional so there’s there’s a bit of there’s a bit of something I think for everyone and the book is supposed to be a very encouraging book.

So it’s like won’t you know, this just get ready to be depressed as you muscle. Although man, I even as I even though I lived some of these stories with some of these men and women and I would. Tear up frequently just as there this I got to read through their chapters and and to see the hope that that had in the Lord and how the Lord ministered in these really beautiful ways and some of the more darker times.

Adrian: What else that’s wonderful. So I guess I just wondered if perhaps as we close you might be able to pray for me and for others that might be watching her in the middle of difficulties and watching this it’s not just a theory or something that might happen in the future, but it’s something they’re walking right now.

Matt: Yeah, I would love to father. I thank you for your sustaining power and Grace and maybe somebody’s watching this. It’s just in the darkest. Season of their life and so I just pray that the words that we’ve spoken today and that Adrian I’ve been able to talk through concerning your character your essence who you are father that you would encourage and bolster that man or woman watching this right now and I pray for my father just such joy that he brings to me in his love for you and his hope that’s been rooted in you and so I just want to pray healing over him in the name of Jesus just not with magic prayers or because I’m something special but because you are good and your kind and you ask us to ask. So according to your word I ask that you heal my brother in the name of Jesus Christ that energy and vitality would return to his body quickly and that even this afternoon he would begin to or even this evening. I guess time change would he would begin to get a sense of energy returning to his body and and strength returning to his frame and.

And and father that he and the Community of Faith that he belongs to father would Rejoice all the more in you the god of their salvation. And so we thank you and bless your name that you hear us you see us you love us sustain us in this broken and Fallen World. I think you that you’ve promised to be near to us and that you don’t leave our side even in the midst of difficult and dark days.

Help us believe give us more faith in through your beautiful name. I pray amen.

Adrian: thanks Matt. I think I’ll leave the recording there.


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Coming soon (God willing) : the rest of the series “Jesus Commands

Jesus said that if you obey him your life will be established on a firm foundation when the storms come.

Adrian hopes God willing to be able to return to blogging more regularly soon.

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