My Favorite T4G Moment
A full month ago, I guaranteed ya’ll that I would later provide reminisces about my time at Together for the Gospel (T4G). In a more recent post, I assured you that I had such a post in mind, and that it was forthcoming. The time for my T4G stories—or at least one of them—is now. Justin Taylor posted a black and white picture from T4G at the end of last month that reminded me of my single favorite moment at T4G: the unified prayer for Matt Chandler and many other ailed Christians.
The above photo is of the keynote speakers who were present as they prayed over Matt Chandler. A picture’s worth a thousand words, and Justin Taylor describes this picture as the image of “a diverse group of men, united in their love for the Savior and the gospel, praying with tears for healing of a brother with stage 3 brain cancer.” Yes, Matt Chandler has (physical) life-threatening brain cancer. And yes, Matt Chandler is also a Christian—a pastor, in fact.
As Matt delivered a short message on suffering and how God has used his cancer thus far, Matt clearly modeled Christian faithfulness. His first “attack” from the cancer came on Thanksgiving. He had surgery days later. Matt said that in the months leading up to his cancer, he had preached a series of messages on suffering. In them, Matt believed that he was preparing his congregation, but he was also preparing himself!
As Matt spoke to us, his deep faith shone. When he quoted Philippians 1:21—to live is Christ, and to die is gain—I could tell that he meant it. He really meant it. The whole portion of this conference that was devoted to how we live the unadjusted gospel through our suffering moved me to tears. Matt’s ending remarks about Hebrews 11 particularly affected me. Matt noticed that in Hebrews 11, some conquered and others were conquered: but all of them were counted faithful. How glorious indeed it is to know that we serve a God who works “all things” for our good if we love him (Rom 8:28)!
After Matt spoke, CJ Mahaney closed the session with his own remarks about suffering, and then the T4G keynote speakers joined with CJ and Matt on the stage. And 7000+ (I’m sure we were above capacity by then) men and women of God then prayed for Matt and for other believers scattered around the building in need of prayer and for other ailing believers back home. John Piper alone prayed audibly for Matt, and what a God-glorifying prayer it was! Dr. Piper did not pray his will—he prayed the Father’s will, he prayed Scripture over Matt.
In his book Marks of the Messenger, Mack Stiles writes of his church in Dubai that it is “multieverything: multinational, multiethnic, multicultural. It’s a taste of heaven.” I’m sure it is … but I know firsthand that T4G, from the opening hymn to the final prayers, was “a taste of heaven,” too. Our unified prayer for Matt Chandler was particularly heavenly. No, we won’t pray for healing in heaven—but we will thank God for it, which John Piper did (among other things) in his prayer for Matt. That communal prayer glorified God—it is the most God-glorifying event I’ve ever partaken in—and it glorified God in its unity, humility, and faith.
The prayer over, we sang “It Is Well with My Soul” before the final break. I had looked forward to singing that song the entire conference, and we couldn’t have sung it at a better time. “It Is Well with My Soul” has long been a favorite hymn of mine, particularly verse 3. But at T4G, as we sang all four verses—and truly meant them!—God more opened my eyes to the beauty within verse two, as well. I leave you with “It Is Well with My Soul” in its God-glorifying entirety. Set your minds on this song, think about it, and pray it, in praise of the God who has saved us spiritually, and who one day will save us physically, as well!
When peace like a river attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll.
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
“It is well, it is well with my soul.”
Tho’ Satan should buffet, tho’ trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control:
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
My sin—oh, the bliss of this glorious tho’t:
My sin, not in part, but the whole
Is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more!
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
And, Lord, haste the day when our faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll,
The trump shall resound and the Lord shall descend!
“Even so,” it is well with my soul.
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