WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP)–The storms of life — the difficult trials that turn a person’s world upside down, such as illness or the death of a loved one — are inevitable, Timothy Lewis told Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary students.
Lewis, pastor of Bethel Baptist Church in Troy, Ill., and chairman of Southeastern’s trustees, voiced a clear reminder for such times: trust and obey God.
“Things happen in life, difficulties and gut-wrenching circumstances,” Lewis said in a message drawn from the first chapter of Jonah in the Old Testament. “We often say, ‘Why is this happening?’ Eventually, these troubles come to all of us.”
Lewis, speaking in the Wake Forest, N.C., campus’ Binkley Chapel Oct. 15, went on to give one possible reason that trials of this nature happen, as seen in the case of Jonah: disobedience in the life of a believer.
“Some storms come into our lives because some correction needs to occur in our lives, because of our rebellion, self-centeredness and disobedience to God’s will for us,” Lewis said.
He also pointed out the consequences of fleeing from the presence of God, as Jonah did in verse 3.
“There’s not a lonelier place in the Book of Jonah than verse 3,” Lewis pointed out. “Sometimes we, too, willfully choose to flee from the presence of the Lord, and we put ourselves in a position that retards our faith, quenches our passion for God and dulls our faith.”
However, as Lewis noted, those who respond to God’s correction, like Jonah, can again be used by God to serve Him in great ways.
“God corrected Jonah, and God used him,” Lewis said. “Likewise, He’s maturing us, growing us and sanctifying us. He’s working to make you more like Christ.”
However, Lewis noted, not all storms of life come as the result of disobedience. Many times they occur even when a person is obeying God, when that person is running toward the presence of God rather than away from it.
“Where is God in all this?” Lewis asked, a question he said those struggling to stay afloat in the storm often pose.
Hope does exist for the one struggling, Lewis said, and His name is Jesus Christ.
“God says, ‘I’m the one who called you. I’m the one who has a plan for your life. You can trust Me,'” the Illinois pastor said.
These are the times, Lewis added, when believers must understand that God is doing a work of grace in their lives and that He has promised never to leave them or forsake them.
“Do you trust Him?” Lewis challenged the seminary community. “The peace comes when we can look in the storm and say, ‘God, whether I live or whether I die, I trust You.’ In the midst of those storms of life, we can find God.”
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: TIMOTHY LEWIS.