A year or so before Lauren Chandler’s husband Matt (pastor of The Village Church in Texas) found out he had a malignant brain tumor, a friend pointed Lauren to Pslam 107.
The psalm talks about God’s steadfast love through trials, through the deserts and the storms of life.
“It was very timely, to say the least,” Lauren says.
As she walked through the ups and downs and difficult times with her family, Lauren kept going back to the passage as a reminder that she could trust in God’s unchanging love.
This month, she released a book, Steadfast Love, detailing what she learned in the process. We talked to her about the book, being honest about pain and keeping God at the center.
The whole book is based around Psalms 107. What has that passage meant to you in the past few years as you’ve walked through difficult circumstances?
You know, there are kind of the four distresses: There are the people walking the desert. Then there are some that are in chains of their sin, their own rebellion—chains they didn’t even know they had. And people caught in suffering from their own foolishness. And then those caught in a storm.
I’ve had seasons of deserts. It’s not like you go through one desert season or one time of dealing with some chains on your heart. There’s not just one time and then you’re done. For the rest of our lives on earth, we are going to go through these seasons where we feel dry and lonely.
In the book, I talk about how the Hebrew people, God’s people, had been in captivity in Egypt. He brings them out of Egypt and into the wilderness, which was a desert season for them. There was nothing really comforting about the desert season except for the presence of God. They were dry and wandering. Just as God had taken those people out of Egypt, but He still needed to take Egypt out of them. There were still some habits and some ways of knowing God and thinking that were really rooted in operating as slaves, putting hope in Pharaoh.
But then, there have been desert seasons when the Lord needed to take me through a time where only He could satisfy. He would dry up all other wells that I might want to run to—people-pleasing or finding satisfaction outside of Him. He was [reminding me], “I’m the only one that will satisfy you, I’m the only one that will quench your thirst.”
You talk about how God’s steadfast love should be our anchor, but there are false anchors we put our hope in. Can you talk a little bit more about what those might be—what you’ve seen people put their hope in falsely?
Some of our false anchors as Americans can be the hope of the next candidate changing things for us. No matter where we stand in that politically, we can put hope in a person to come and make things right as we think they should be.
For me, putting hope even in my husband—hoping that Matt would lead our family well, wanting to please him, wanting to be a good wife to him. But he’s still not strong enough to be an anchor for my soul. For me, thinking, “OK, if I could just achieve ____ then I would know that I’m good enough, then I would not be longing.” Those are the kind of anchors I think we mistakenly put our hope in that will break, that are faulty, that will not hold in the storms of life, that will not satisfy in the deserts and that will not break chains in us.
How do you think we move from clinging to those things and make God the anchor?
First of all, I think we’ve got to wake up and see we’re in the midst of one of those distresses—to own our thirst, own that we’re longing, own that we feel enslaved to something, own that we are right in the middle of a rebellion or just own that we’re in the midst of a storm and we have no power over it.
In that owning, we move to, “God, you’re the only one who can do something about this situation. I can’t. No one around me can. No one can rescue me but you.” So being humble enough to recognize that we’re in the midst of it, and to not put on a happy face and pretend that it’s all OK. To grieve, to put words to our longing.
What would you to someone who’s in the middle of one of those trials—who’s in the desert, or feels stuck in their chains, or in the middle of a storm?
Don’t be ashamed that you are in that place. Don’t kid yourself into believing that you’re more than you are. It’s OK to be weak. 2 Corinthians 12:9 says, “For my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Being in the midst of those seasons doesn’t mean you’ve failed—it means you can’t, you are powerless.
There’s no shame in those seasons. Be where you are, own that, but don’t stay there. Be willing to look for His rescue and keep crying out for Him. He is close, He hears you and He will not waste this season.
When people read this book, what do you hope they walk away thinking about and feeling?
I hope they know the depth of God’s steadfast love them, that they can trace it through Scripture. That steadfast love isn’t something that was just thought up in the New Testament with Jesus—that was His plan from the very beginning. He is a faithful God. He will sustain you. He is the only true anchor for your soul.
When things feel out of control, when you feel powerless, you can turn to Him. He is not a God who is up in the heavens waiting for you to get it together, waiting for you to figure Him out, waiting for you to read your Bible enough, get your theology right, be able to answer all the hard questions.
No, He is a God who is close, who has made Himself available. He knows every kind of temptation, every hurt, every weakness—not just from afar but personally, because Jesus came fully God, fully man to know our condition personally, intimately, to be able to sympathize with us, and then do it for us because He knew we couldn’t do it.