Life affords two realities: God and trouble, Dr. Louima Lilite told OBU students during a weekly chapel message Wednesday, Oct. 17. But Psalm 16 promises God is a refuge of strength who will not abandon his people, he noted.
Lilite, assistant professor of music, led the OBU community in a time of worship before sharing his message, "The Success of Trials: Meditations from Psalm 16." The message follows OBU's current chapel theme, "The Psalms." The psalm is one of six psalms of lament written by David as an act of worship.
While Christians may sing about Jesus being a source of strength, Lilite said trouble still visits life in many forms, including a shattered dream, a broken heart, a betrayal, an unpaid parking ticket, a lingering failed grade after much study, an unkind social media comment, a negative medical report or the death of a loved one.
For chapel messages, follow this link.
"Could it be that such torments, which shake the very foundation of our being, are unearthing a real desire for that which alone can fulfill us?" Lilite asked. "The Word of God tells us that this satisfier is not a 'that' but a 'who' (Jesus Christ). He is truly the One in whom all things hold together."
Lilite asked students to consider what they believe is "success" in life. He suggested ideas of success include wealth, health or the pursuit of happiness.
"Whether you've discussed it with someone or not, your picture of success in life is the very motor that drives you and guides your every decision," he said. "The way you live broadcasts your concept of success to the world."
God's picture of success, Lilite said, is revealed in Jesus' statement found in Luke 23:46, which reads, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." A total trust in God reflects God's view of success. Psalm 16 offers several lessons toward success in trusting God, Lilite said.
One lesson, he said, is that when Christians endure difficult times, it is appropriate to follow the example of the psalmist and share personal woes with God. He said the psalm also reminds readers that, in difficult times, God alone is the steadfast refuge - not another person, another drink or another paycheck.
From Psalm 16:3-4, Lilite said he learned that in hard times, two kinds of people emerge: the saints in the land, and people who chase after other gods.
"All that is required for us to be 'saints in the land' is to trust that God is God, to set the Lord always before us, and to believe that he will provide exactly what we need in order to get through the time of testing," he said.
He said the psalm teaches that the restrictive nature of trials reveals a Christian's true inheritance - not material possessions, health, status, fame or fortune - but God himself. The added benefits of this true inheritance are that God will always teach his people; he is the firm foundation which cannot be shaken; he provides peace and joy even when life itself is devoid of happiness; he will not abandon his people in despair; and eternal pleasures are found in communion with God.
Lilite noted how his own life can be peppered with disappointments, losses, rejections and failures, all which can lead to emotional distress. He shared his most recent season of trouble when his father died unexpectedly three weeks ago, resulting in an enormous loss and huge bereavement.
"Yet, by the power of God's glorious might, I am comforted to know that Christ bought my soul with the ultimate price of His blood, granting me access to his limitless strength and enabling me to move on to subsequent seasons of joy, restoration and excitement," Lilite said. "Despite the pain that often accompanies those hard moments, I can experience fullness and joy because Christ strengthens me."
In recent days, Lilite said his wife shared a psalm of encouragement from Psalm 56:8, "You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book."
"Friends, these verses teach us that we do have a solid Rock upon whom we can stand," he said, referring to the strength of God. "If our trials and tears are recorded in God's book, that means they are useful to teach us, rebuke us, correct us and train us in righteousness so that we may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
"It means that at the end of our rope stands a God who is waiting to guide us and transform us completely."
Lilite closed the service with the song, "Safe Within Your Arms" by Mark Hayes. He invited students to come before God with their weaknesses and to experience God's strength.