Friday, June 15, 2007

No luck in the Bible

The concept of "luck" or "chance" is mentioned very rarely in the Bible. In the RSV, I find only
Do not reveal your thoughts to every one, lest you drive away your good luck (Sir 8:19)

I tried looking up good fortune and surprise and fate only found uses that don't mean

1. The chance happening of fortunate or adverse events; fortune
2. Good fortune or prosperity; success
3. One's personal fate or lot

If you google "make your own luck" you will find lots of validation that you can make your own luck, find the things you need, meet the people you want, arrive at the place you can prosper. Some point to preparedness and planning; others veer off into occult practice.

I have long been "lucky" in two superficial aspects of life: I can always get a great parking space, and I tend to do well at games of chance, especially when I don't care (which means without any real money on the line - think "Las Vegas Night").

And I delighted in the concept of serendipity, when I would run across an old friend when I made a wrong turn, or found a book I've hunted for years when I went into an old store to please a traveling companion.

Well, it's probably abundantly clear to all you better-Christians-than-me out there, but it truly didn't occur to me until the last few years that there is no luck, there is only blessing. Even when I truly understood that my joy is in Jesus Christ alone, I still drew a line above a certain amount of luck: how could God be concerned with my strategy for Yahtzee?

It's sinking in, that God loves me so much, and is so close to me, that He puts His Father's hand into my life and directs it gently for my good. To that end, as a witness, I'm trying to unlearn the phrase "What luck!" and replace it with "What a blessing!"

On a side note, what's your luck/blessing? I can find a parking place in front of Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Memorial Day....


Roz said...

Hee hee. I pray for good parking when I'm in a hurry, but you must be well prayed-up ahead of time.

I actually don't think much about luck. That must be missing from my background. (Except when I'm on a winning run of Free Cell - but then I'm afraid God is allowing it to show me how lazy I am.)

Perhaps a good-luck/bad-luck orientation is related to how we view the circumstances of life. If we expect good things to happen, we might not think much about luck but instead fall into the sin of pride, as in "I deserve to have good things happen to me." You see the danger there, though. When bad things happen, we don't think about luck either -- we get resentful instead.

Oh, who knows. I can't think philosophically in the morning.

Therese Z said...

And the elevated Christian view: if bad things happen, they must be for our benefit.

THERE's where luck falls away as a viable choice. Good luck, bad luck - no issue. God's Will.

kc bob said...

A few lucky quotes for your edification:

“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”

“I'm a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.”

“If you are lucky enough to find a way of life you love, you have to find the courage to live it.”

“Your luck is how you treat people”

“Luck never gives; it only lends”

For me, I think that luck is a lot like grace in that it is neither earned or deserved but it is given at the mercy of One who loves us with an eternal love.

Therese Z said...

And there's the difference. We can curse "dumb luck" or bemoan our bad luck, but we can't curse or bemoan the Father who gives us everything for our sanctification.

Henry Dieterich said...

Manipulating Luck or Fortune has always been a big part of paganism. It was very important in Roman paganism, and is still an important part of Japanese paganism. It even infiltrated Israelite religion enough to be condemned by Isaiah: "But you who forsake the LORD, who forget my holy mountain, who set a table for Fortune and fill cups of mixed wine for Destiny; I will destine you to the sword, and all of you shall bow down to the slaughter; because, when I called, you did not answer, when I spoke, you did not listen, but you did what was evil in my eyes, and chose what I did not delight in" (Is 65:11-12).

Therese Z said...

I didn't catch those references, Henry - very intense. It's tempting to say that I don't set a place for Fortune, but I think I do, when I leave work undone, trusting in "good enough" or "nobody will notice" to get by....

Anonymous said...

What book in the Bible is (Sir 8:19)?

Roz said...

The book of Sirach, which was accepted as canonical by the Jews in Jesus' time and now is part of the canon of Scripture according to the Catholic Church. In the late 1st century, after the completion of the New Testament, Jews altered the books they considered to be scripture, eliminating Sirach and several others. After the Reformation, most Protestant denominations adopted this Jewish revision rather than continuing the other books (referring to them as "Apocrapha") that had been accepted by Christians until that time.

Robert Lemmon said...

I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.

Ecclesiastes, chapter 9, verse 11



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