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Reflections on Suffering

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On Thanksgiving Day a year ago, immediately after putting down my infant daughter, I suffered a seizure in the middle of our living room and collapsed. I awoke in the hospital a few hours later with no memory of what had transpired.

Ensuing tests, scans and X-rays in the following days revealed a cancerous brain tumor. Within 10 days of the seizure, doctors were preparing me for 10-hour surgery to remove as much of the tumor as possible and to see what lay before me, my wife Lauren and our three children.

By the grace of God, I’m hoping for a quieter, less eventful Thanksgiving in a few days.

I have learned that most people don’t have a solid understanding of suffering. I thought I did. Now, the Lord has given me a front row seat. The great mercy of God was that while I was preparing our church for suffering, God was purposely preparing me.

Most people don’t want to hear about suffering, but the reality is that sometimes we are faithful and do exactly what God wants us to do, and we still get mauled, overrun and sometimes, even get cancer.

I’m not sure how people without a strong view of God’s sovereignty over all things handle suffering. In at least three different meetings with doctors, I felt like I was punched in my soul. It was in those moments when things felt like they were spinning out of control that I clung tightly to what I believe.

It was in those moments where the Spirit of God reminded me, “God is good, and He does good.” He reminded me that God has a plan that He is working for His glory and for my joy. I was reminded that this cancer wasn’t punitive but somehow redemptive.

And I can agree wholeheartedly with the Apostle Paul, who writes in Romans 8, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”

Matt Chandler is Lead Pastor at The Village Church in Flower Mound, TX

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