Larry and Betty Bartells had a good life. They had six children, a nice home, good jobs. They could have coasted for the rest of their lives, looking forward to getting that last child through school, and enjoying the post-children time of life.
Countless times I've heard myself say, "I'm going to bake a cake." Then one day I realized that I've never baked a cake in my life—only my oven can do that. I simply mix the right ingredients and allow the oven to do its part. Through that division of labor, I have the joy of seeing others taste and enjoy delicious cake.
Moses had been commissioned by God to lead the Israelites out of bondage. But he was apprehensive about how the Egyptians, and even his countrymen, would react. So the Lord said to him, "What is that in your hand?" "A rod," Moses answered (Ex. 4:2). Then God said to him, "You shall take this rod in your hand, with which you shall do the signs" (v.17). Great miracles were accomplished with that rod when Moses obeyed the Lord. It was insignificant in itself, but it became a powerful instrument when committed to the Lord.
Have you ever been in a situation where you thought you were about to die? Several years ago, a veteran missionary was in a plane that was circling over St. Louis and unable to land because of poor visibility. As the plane's fuel supply ran low, he jotted down—just in case—his last will and testament. He wrote, "There is peace, perfect peace. . . . Life with Christ is the way to live. In this hour there is assurance—there is God underneath all the uncertainties of human existence. So I rest in God."
Many people live and die in terrible circumstances. I heard about a boy who never knew his father and whose mother considered him a nuisance. He survived by stealing and going through the garbage behind a food store. He died in his early teens from stab wounds, and nobody cared. His eternal destiny is in the hands of God, who requires little from those to whom little has been given (Lk. 12:48).
We've all had our share of both laughter and sorrow. Although we naturally enjoy laughter more than tears, we would have to say that most of the wisdom we've gained along the way we owe to the sad times. Yet, many Christians are obsessed with the pursuit of personal happiness. The writer of Ecclesiastes rated such a pursuit as foolish (7:3-4).