Should Christians believe in “luck” – or believe that what happens to us is the working of God? We use the word “serendipity” to refer to “unexpected good fortune.” In the area where I grew up, older people would sometimes say: “even a blind pig will sometimes find an acorn.” Abraham Lincoln is reported to have said: “I believe in luck, but it seems to me that the people who work the hardest have the best luck.”
We know that God cares for His people and provides for them, but we also realize that we are free moral agents and can choose to obey or reject His will. Many times, events do not seem on the surface to go favorably with God’s people. We believe, however, that those who are fully submissive to His will can, with the passing of time, see purpose to events that earlier were not understood. This article will first note some statements and events that confirm God’s concern and care for His people, then give Bible examples of “unexpected good fortune.”
Job’s critics claimed that Job must have greatly sinned because of all the terrible events that had come to his life. He had lost his great possessions, his children had been killed, his wife did not support him in his misery, and his health was gone. Then, even his friends were not supportive. Notice Job’s statement in Job 12:9,10 – “Who among all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this, in whose hand is the life of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind?”
David, a man “after God’s own heart,” (Acts 13:22) excelled in his ability to praise God, especially to note God’s care for His own people. Note his statement in 1 Chronicles 29:10-12 – “Therefore David blessed the LORD before all the assembly; and David said: ‘Blessed are You, LORD God of Israel, our Father, forever and ever. Yours, O LORD, is the greatness, the power and the glory, the victory and the majesty; for all that is in heaven and in earth is Yours; Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and You are exalted as head over all. Both riches and honor come from You, and You reign over all. In Your hand is power and might; in Your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all.’ ”
In the revelation of Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of a great image, symbolizing future kingdoms, Daniel makes the following statement: “Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, for wisdom and might are His. And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding.” Daniel 2:20, 21.
New Testament passages abound that demonstrate God’s care for us. God’s awareness of each of us was revealed by Jesus when He taught that God knows when a sparrow falls, and that we are of much greater value than many sparrows (Matthew 10:29-31). Our concern that we have sufficient food, drink, and clothing is used by our Lord as He pointed to the birds and the lilies of the field: Matthew 6:28, 29 – “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.”
Paul reminded the Philippians “for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” Philippians 2:13.
The working of God’s plan to bless us and to provide for our salvation is explained in Paul’s sweeping statement in Romans 8:28 – “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”
I will assume the reader’s familiarity with the following Bible stories as we attempt to distinguish between “luck” and “unexpected good” coming into the lives of those who follow God:
Abraham and Sarah showed their customary hospitality in a routine, everyday situation, not realizing at first that they “entertained angels unawares” – Genesis 18:1-15, Hebrews 13:2.
God used Joseph’s enslavement for a purpose no others knew at the time. It was meant by his brothers for evil but God meant it for good to “save many people alive.” Genesis 45:7, 8; 50:20.
Esther may have thought her ascendancy to queen of Persia was just “good luck,” but Mordecai reminded her: “Who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Esther 4:13,14.
The intent of those who imprisoned Paul, or preached Christ of strife, was to “add affliction” to Paul’s bonds. God, however, used the situation for other purposes! The inspired apostle affirmed “…that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel…” Philippians 1:12.
How does this concept apply to our lives today? It certainly calls for patience in dealing with life’s disruptions and more acceptance of circumstances we do not understand. With our prayers and patient submission to God’s will, the passing of time may provide insight that enables us to see God’s hand at work. This is not some mystical, miraculous intervention but rather God’s use of His providence to bless us in our overlapping lives. Romans 14:7, 8 “For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.”