Popular speaker and author Matt Chandler recently praised God for a recent MRI brain scan which returned positive results, marking his fifth year cancer-free.
"Astounded again at God's faithfulness. Another clean MRI today. Hard to believe it's been over 5 years #jehovahrapha," Chandler, author of "The Explicit Gospel," wrote on Twitter Monday.
The pastor's complete recovery is nothing short of a miracle. On Thanksgiving Day in 2009, Chandler, lead teaching pastor at The Village Church in Highland Village, collapsed in his living room from a seizure.
"I was walking back to sit in my chair, I was just walking back to sit down, and literally I woke up in the hospital," Chandler recalled.
"I didn't feel anything coming on. Literally, I have no memory of thinking, 'Oh that's weird, my hand's asleep.'"
After numerous tests and scans, doctors discovered a malignant tumor the size of a golf ball in his right frontal lobe. Chandler was told that if he didn't have surgery, he only had three years left to live.
The pastor recalls feeling as if "the floor had dropped out."
"To sit down with a neurosurgeon and him go through the long list of things that can happen when they cut out most of your right frontal lobe, that was when I was like, 'Oh my gosh,'" he said.
Although doctors were able to remove most of the tumor, Chandler was left weakened due to 18 subsequent months of chemotherapy, radiation, and regular MRI's.
Throughout the ordeal, the pastor turned to his faith for strength, finding comfort in a particular verse in the Biblical book of Nehemiah, where the prophet asks God to strengthen his hands
"That kind of became a verse for me that I just kind of put in my gut and asked the Holy Spirit to let me marinate in that text and let my hands be strong. 'I want to praise you and make much of you in this journey,'" he remembers thinking. "'You've dealt so generously with me that how could I praise you when everything's awesome and then not when things don't look like they're going my way.'"
Throughout his chemo and radiation treatments, Chandler continued to lead the Village Church, using his experience to encourage others. Under his pastor care, the church soon grew from 160 members to over 10,000 in attendance.
Five years later, the only physical remnant of Chandler's cancer is a scar on his scalp that's only visible when he turns a certain way. However, the pastor says the sanctification he experienced through the ordeal will remain forever.
"[My experience with cancer] made me look long and hard at my motives and has drawn me deeply into God in prayer. I am an excellent studier and researcher, and before all this began, I would say a decent man of prayer; but I learned after they told me I only had two to three years left that I knew much more about God than I actually knew Him. The bulk of my sanctification through this ordeal has been the birth of a deep desire for intimacy with our great God and King," Chandler recalls.
Today, Chandler, who now heads the Acts 29 church planting network, and his wife, Lauren, are the parents of three children and have spoken openly about the challenges they've faced with the brain tumor diagnosis and multiple miscarriages.
"[Trials are] not punitive; not random; and [have] not been given to us by God to show us who's boss," Chandler says. "There's a purpose in it; there's a limit in it; and in the end, God is not going to give to us what He will not sustain us in. And I believe at that moment, the Holy Spirit gives you the power to stand."
Chandler's latest book, Mingling of the Soul: God's Design for Love, Marriage, Sex and Redemption, presents a Biblical view of love and intimacy through the Song of Solomon.