In less than a week, school children will be eating green cupcakes, McDonald’s will sell millions of Shamrock shakes, and green beer will flood the gullets of many party-goers. Saint Patrick’s Day is once again upon us. Last year, I celebrated with more vigor than usual as the holiday marked the twentieth anniversary of my most significant breakup.
It was most definitely not luck, but God’s hand on my life (not to mention hours of prayers from concerned people) that this relationship died. As I hung up the phone that night, I heard a still small voice say, “This relationship is over. It will never be reopened.” What a blessing those words are now… though they did not comfort me then.
Having God reach into my life and save me from a terrible relationship on Saint Patrick’s Day will forever color my view of luck versus providence. For the believer, is there any place in our hearts and minds for the concept of luck (either good or bad)? Or, are our lives designed and steps drawn out by the Lord?
The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the Lord upholds his hand. (Psalm 37:23-24, ESV)
What Do We Believe About Luck?
Ask any number of people if they believe their lives are dictated by luck and many will emphatically answer, “No, not at all! We make our own luck!” However, sometimes we approach situations in ways which contradict that declaration. Watching basketball or football games, my dad often said (speaking of an opposing player he did not care for), “That guy is the luckiest man alive.” And, do we not sometimes feel disdain for those who gain so much with seemingly little effort?
When we believe, even in the smallest part, that our lives are happy or sad, prosperous or poor – based on luck – it colors everything. When our relationships suffer, we are “unlucky in love.” When our work suffers, we are “unlucky in our career.” When our body suffers, we are “unlucky in health.” And, if luck determines how our lives will turn out, is there really any point in working towards a better life?
Before moving ahead in a relationship, it is prudent to notice how your significant other approaches the positive and negative circumstances he or she faces. When something goes right, what is the response? When something goes wrong, who or what is blamed?
Seven Questions to Review Together
In honor of Saint Patrick’s Day, I would encourage you to read or watch the historical account of Saint Patrick together, enjoy a green food of some kind, and work your way through the following questions together. Write down your initial answer and then take some time to deeply ponder each question. See if your answers change after careful reflection.
- To what or whom do I attribute my successes in life, and why?
- To what or whom do I attribute my failures, and why?
- How do I react, internally and externally, to the successes of others?
- Do I have a growth mindset (i.e., I can improve, grow, change my trajectory), or a fixed mindset (i.e., these are the cards I have been dealt and I must work with what I have)?
- Who influenced your beliefs regarding luck versus providence? How did he, she, or they impact you?
- Describe an experience where you struggled to believe in providence over luck. What caused you to wonder, “Are some people luckier than others?” in that situation?
- Are you comfortable joining your life with someone who believes in luck or would that cause significant problems?
God Supplies Our Needs
It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed. (Deuteronomy 31:8, ESV)
The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord. (Proverbs 16:33, ESV)
And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19, ESV)
I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread. (Psalm 37:25, ESV)
His Ways Are Not Our Ways
For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? (Matthew 16:26, ESV)
So often, the people who seem to have everything – looks, personality, fame, money, healthy family, adventure, and romance are anything but content. Everybody needs the Lord. We were created to worship and if we are not worshipping God, we are worshipping something – often ourselves.
As the verse above reminds us, someone may appear lucky, but if they are not following Christ, his or her “luck” is only for a season. We need not groan at the fortunes of others either, but rather be thankful for what God has given to us.
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. (James 1:17, ESV)
But, It Is Not Fair!
When I was nineteen, the green-eyed monster of jealousy burst out of me in full force. A dear friend of mine was given a special gift by her parents. Not just any gift, but something I had wanted for years. As I stood there for the unveiling, I could not believe my eyes. It sparkled and shined and was every bit as beautiful as I had always imagined. She stood in complete shock and could hardly breathe. Little did she know, I could hardly breathe either.
For years, I compared myself to her and she always came out ahead. She was smarter. She had more stamina for studying. She did not make so many of the stupid teenager mistakes I made. She had it all together and now she had the only physical item in the universe I intensely wanted. In my heart, I groaned, “Of course she gets this. She gets everything else. Why not this?” I did everything in my power to hide my weird grief, but I was lost in a jealousy which left me feeling completely weak.
Why is she so lucky? For me, owning this treasure is a pipe dream. But, it gets to be her reality.
I am ashamed to admit it, but it put me in a serious funk. I had a good old-fashioned pity party. After all, she got “my” toy and it was not fair. Then, as often happens, age and experience softened me. The sparkle faded and appreciation for my friend’s blessings grew. I love her. I want her to have her heart’s desires. When she wins, I win by default because we are connected as such good friends. Just as God cares for me, He cares for her. Our gifts, both internal and external, are different but all from our Father. Those things – tangible and intangible – we so desperately desire in our youth come up short in the long run. How many toys we own does not signify how much God has blessed us, nor does it determine our happiness.
But, no matter what “luck” others seem to have, God (the Creator of all life and the Master of all galaxies) personally cares for me. He provides. He has never forsaken me, even when I questioned His goodness at the fortunes of others. My Heavenly Father cares for me. No luck required.
What Does Luck Mean to You?
Whether you are a Saint Patty’s Day enthusiast or it is just another day on your calendar, we wish you and yours a Happy Saint Patrick’s Day. As you survey the season, we encourage you to take a deep look into your core and determine if you have beliefs regarding luck (versus God’s sovereignty) and discuss with your special lady or gentleman. Hopefully, you will work through the questions above and add your answers to your Creed notebooks. How we view our fortunes in life shines a light on our true beliefs about God.
I am the LORD your God, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt. Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it. (Psalm 81:10, ESV)
Do you believe in luck?