Lauren Chandler dropped anchor on God’s steadfast love when husband Matt Chandler’s brain tumor barged into their lives.
One moment all seemed right in the world, with a holiday feast going according to plan. The next moment Lauren heard a life-altering crash vibrate from an adjacent room. Her feet led her to a scene from her worst nightmare.
There, before Lauren’s eyes, lay her husband, Matt Chandler, Lead Pastor of The Village Church, crumbling in the grip of a seizure. Suddenly, on a day of feasting—literally on Thanksgiving—the Chandlers found themselves peering into the doorway of the “house of mourning” (Ecclesiastes 7:2).
Matt Chandler’s Brain Tumor
A whirlwind of questions swirled in Lauren’s mind as she rode in the ambulance.
“Is this the rest of my life?”
“Will I take care of a man who is but a shadow of whom he used to be?”
A few tests exposed the culprit responsible for Matt’s seizure: a brain tumor.
“I always assumed life would progress according to my best-laid plan. But the morning of Thanksgiving 2009 changed my perspective forever.”
Finding out her 35-year-old husband had a life-threatening condition was a reality check that shot Lauren through the heart.
Lauren and Matt Chandler were thrust into the uncharted territory of the cancer storm. And Lauren was already looking to God and the truths found in His word to hold her arms up along the way. Lauren prayed God would heal Matt, though she knew God’s plan might not be to remove the trial.
“We ask for the miracle. We ask knowing God is entirely capable…We believe He knows the trajectory of every answer. We believe He is good and will act accordingly.”
Cancer and the Threat of Death
“Death rips a hole in the veil we have over our eyes.”
Matt’s initial prognosis was two to three years. At the time, Matt and Lauren had a kindergartener, a preschooler, and a six-month-old baby.
“Our future was uncertain. Stability seemed out of reach until I turned to the Lord in the midst of the storm, and He answered with His steadfast love.”
Though Matt’s brain tumor was sure to bring hardship, Lauren wasn’t a complete stranger to sorrow. Lauren believes the struggles of her past prepared her for the sobering news of Matt’s tumor.
Though life had gone “according to plan or better,” for most of Lauren’s life, when she miscarried a baby after she had already had two children, she began to think differently. The miscarriage revealed some false anchors Lauren was clinging to—like her plans, for example.
Lauren had made her plans and was happy with them. But God’s plans were different. She describes it as learning to grab onto the buoy of God’s truth and love.
“The miscarriage shook out what I was standing on that wasn’t God…and He is the only thing that can satisfy the longing of my heart.”
The certainty of God’s love kept Lauren anchored amid Matt’s grim diagnosis—cancer—and everything that came with it: surgeries, seizures, scans and chemotherapy.
Finding Steadfast Love
It was through seeking God in the Bible during the storm the book “Steadfast Love” (B&H Books) came out of Lauren. It all started with a speaking engagement at three plenary sessions during The Village Church’s annual women’s conference. Though she hadn’t done much speaking, she agreed to the task anyways.
“I’m not sure if it was out of obedience, naivety, or delusion, but I accepted. The Lord led me to Psalm 107 and I still can’t get past it.”
Lauren describes the four people groups in Psalm 107 as those in the desert, in chains, in their own folly, and caught in a storm. And they were all delivered by God’s steadfast love.
“I saw myself among each of them.”
Though her conference sessions didn’t give enough time to really study Psalm 107, Steadfast Love gave her enough room to expand the study in book format. It also allows readers to peer into the depths of her story—her soul-searching journey with God.
“I must confess, it’s not always pretty. There have been tears, there have been wounds, there have been downright ugly cries, but too much is at stake not to be vulnerable in this book.”
Ultimately, Lauren shares her story and struggle to give readers the same comfort and love she met in the Bible.
“The storms come for all of us. No one escapes loss this side of Heaven, but there is a God who cares and He is not far off, who concerns Himself with our concerns, and who is the only One capable of rescuing us.”
Demonstrating love by meeting our needs through Jesus, God has proven Himself a trustworthy anchor. Lauren and Matt Chandler have found this to be true time and time again—and they still cling to God one moment at a time, and share encouragement with others struggling in storms of life.
Matt and Lauren Chandler’s storm isn’t over. There’s still a chance of relapse. Matt returns every six months for a scan to see any changes in his brain.
“Twice a year we stand on the edge of what could be with only God’s love to keep us secure.”
So Lauren’s book, “Steadfast Love,” isn’t just for her readers. It’s for Lauren, too.
“I wanted this book to be a reminder to myself of God’s steadfast love.”