Life is more like a pin ball machine than a nickelodeon. In the days of the nickelodeon, we put in a coin, pressed the button and the music we desired and had chosen was played. By contrast, a pin ball machine opens the to us use of the balls and deals us “wins” or “losses” on the basis of some combination of skill and luck…or maybe a matter of luck or skill principally.

We are less likely to be shot by a thug prowling the streets of the inner city if we abstain from going to such places at times of greatest danger. We are more likely to be satisfied if we have done helpful and constructive deeds for others. If we “sow” deeds of kindness, generosity and thoughtfulness, we are more likely to “reap” appropriate fruits than if we had sown callous or vicious deeds.

Hence, operating on an assumption of probability we are more likely to have happy lives based on kindness and sympathy from others if we have sown kindness and sympathy.

However, there are people who do everything right…and still experience disaster or tragedy. I am deeply aching inside for a couple I know who have experienced one disaster after another. A son died. A daughter fell into dope addiction. A grandson died. The daughter could not maintain employment and exhausted all her parents’ assets providing housing, clothing and food for her and her children. Even though she was a badly troubled woman, the daughter’s parents loved her deeply. Recently, she was killed in an automobile accident.

Her parents are distraught to the breaking place and beyond. What comfort can a Pastor bring them? What words can be said by a friend that are helpful? What can be done for them to deliver them from anguish, depression?

The answers given by Job and Jesus are that we cannot control the outcome. We can only control the input. We CAN live with love for others. We can live generosity toward the needy. We can live gifts of service for our fellow men. We can let the beauty of Jesus be seen in us. And, we can know that we have made a positive contribution to the welfare of the society of God’s children. And, that is enough.

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