Years ago I heard my professor Wayne Oates say “People today believe in a theology of luck.” I jerked my head up in amazement, recognizing the instant truth of his statement.
In an earlier age, even non-followers of Jesus believed in Providence. When things happened they could not explain, they still assumed God’s guiding hand was at work in some way.
Darwin’s theories of evolution lead to the assumption that chance governs our world. Thus the famous quote: “If a billion monkeys were typing randomly over a billion years, they would produce the works of Shakespeare.” This pseudo-scientific statement is ridiculous: it claims a truth that can’t be proven. Plus, I’ve never seen a monkey type anything, random or not.
People have come to believe life is chance, luck. To me, this answer falls short. How then do we explain the prevalence of good? We all experience grace regularly. Grace is narrowly avoiding an accident. Grace is an unexpected raise. Grace is a tender moment between husband and wife. Grace is arms of your three year old around your neck. Grace is the oxygen you breathe. Lewis Smedes said his daily dose of Prozac was a sacrament of grace.
The skeptical voice inside of us quickly turns to the counter argument: “What about all the bad? How do you explain that?” I can more easily explain some, not all bad, than I can explain good. Bad things happen because people make bad choices. This terrible gift of free will can be used to bless others or blast others. I know even beyond people’s bad choices there are bad things that happen that cannot be explained.
I don’t think we can conclude that unexplained bad things offset unexplained good things. To borrow a term from engineering, things happening to us, good or bad, are not part of a closed system. Life doesn’t run hydraulically. We can’t distill the moments of life to mathematics.
I will grant that to see the good in our lives as grace, not luck, requires faith. It requires faith that there is a God out there who wants good for us, not evil. All the “luck” in the world seems to point not to random chance, but to a God who is personal, who is intervening in life, who is blessing every human being in this world in some form, in some fashion. What we call luck is really grace.
Even if you don’t believe in this gracious God, would you be brave enough to pray to see signs of His grace? What you see might surprise you.