We may throw the dice, but the Lord determines how they fall. [Proverbs 16:33 (NLT)]
My youngest grand held the dice and blew on them for luck. The way those dice fell, however, had to do with probability and not luck. Like Yahtzee, life often seems a game of chance; sometimes we’re lucky and sometimes we’re not. Luck, however, has nothing to do with it. For example, King Ahab seemed to have incredibly bad luck when a soldier randomly shot an arrow and accidently hit him right between the joints of his armor. In spite of appearances, that wasn’t luck; God had already pronounced Ahab’s doom through the prophet Micaiah. It was God, not luck, who caused King Xerxes’s insomnia and the report of Mordecai saving his life to be read just moments before Haman wanted a death sentence pronounced on the Jew. Nor was it simply luck that Ruth ended up gleaning in the field of Boaz (Naomi’s kinsman-redeemer). Our sovereign God was firmly in control and directed those seemingly chance events.
On the other hand, sometimes God allows events to happen. That Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers wasn’t bad luck on Joseph’s part; it was evil and jealousy on the part of his brothers. God allowed Satan to plague Job and David to take a lustful look at Bathsheba. He’s allowed me to make a number of bad decisions and, while I would prefer attributing their consequences to bad luck, I can’t. They were simply the result of my foolishness, pride, pigheadedness or disobedience.
As the creator of the universe, God set a certain number of “laws” in place that keep our lives somewhat predictable. Principles like the laws of gravity, motion, and conservation of energy determine how things will operate in our world. We have twenty-four hours in a day, the sun sets in the west, water flows from a higher to a lower elevation, and if a equals b then b equals a. These “laws,” however, can be broken by their creator. For example, it wasn’t luck that kept Joshua from running out of sunlight while battling the Amorites; God prolonged the day at his request. Although time may have stopped for Joshua, God made it move backwards for Hezekiah and Isaiah when the shadow on a sundial moved back ten steps. Natural laws were suspended when a three-day plague of darkness descended on the Egyptians (but not the Israelites) and when the Red Sea parted for the Israelites but consumed the Egyptians. Surely turning H2O (water) into CH3CH2OH (ethyl alcohol) plus glycerin, pectins, acids, polyphenols and flavor to make wine broke some law of chemistry. That Jesus and Peter walked on water broke the laws of flotation. None of these, however, were the result of luck.
Even though much of life seems random, we live by God’s sovereignty and not by luck. As for my grand and the dice—God could determine the way they fall but that wouldn’t be luck; it would be God’s will. Nevertheless, I seriously doubt He is going to interfere in a friendly game of Yahtzee. There is no force of good luck that can be coaxed into finding us a parking place, turning lights green, or giving us five of a kind nor is there a force of bad luck we can blame when those parking places are filled, the lights are red, and we can’t even roll a pair. Whether God is actively causing something to happen or passively allowing it, nothing is a matter of luck. As for the favors and blessings of life—let’s always give credit where credit is due: to the grace of God.