Monday, April 7, 2014

Good Luck, Bad Luck - Is Luck Real?


Comments on “luck” are common. “Best of luck,” “you are a lucky person,” “I was very unlucky,” are those we may have said and heard. The dictionary definitions of luck are, “the force that seems to operate for good or ill in a person's life, as in shaping circumstances, events, or opportunities,” or “good fortune; advantage or success, considered as the result of chance,” or “a combination of circumstances, events, etc., operating by chance to bring good or ill to a person (emphasis mine). 1

Luck could be used to describe the activity of God or a force (which is nothing but God). Alternatively luck could describe a random activity. More often than not, luck invokes chance, and is understood as a chance event.

Luck as Chance Occurrence

            A chance event is a random event. A chance event cannot be controlled, understood or predicted. When something good happens, it is good luck. When something bad occurs, it is bad luck. Chance events that could be good or bad are not controlled, understood or predicted. They just happen.

Wishing good luck from the perspective of chance refers to a hope that something good could happen. It’s a mere wish. The wish may or may not be realized. It would be splendid if the wish is realized but if the wish is not realized then no one need be blamed. If the wish is realized then there is none to thank. Probably the only person who should be thanked in this instance is the one who wished good luck.

So every event from within the perspective of chance seems random. Or is it? Let’s think this through.

Suppose a friend of mine wishes me luck while I am on my way to take an exam, and if I pass in flying colors, do I now consider my success as a random occurrence – a result of luck?

If I have prepared very well for that exam I am expected to pass in flying colors. If I have not prepared well then I should not expect to pass in flying colors. In other words, there is no luck whatsoever in the success or failure that I encounter. My success or failure is contingent (dependent) on the nature of my preparation.

Suppose I have not prepared well. Consider that I have only studied 50% of the subject concerned. Would I be termed lucky if all the questions in the examination are from my very well prepared 50% segment? It does seem a random occurrence, correct?  Maybe or maybe not!

            A significant factor to consider is that I have been irresponsible in my preparation. Although I am expected to be well prepared for my examination (100% prepared), I have failed in my extent of preparation. Now it seems that luck plays a role when an individual is irresponsible.

Furthermore, let’s consider a drunk driver swerving away from the road and killing a child walking on the roadside. In another instance, a drunk driver swerves away from the road but does not harm anyone since there were none in the vicinity to be harmed.

Some of us would term the drunk driver who killed the child as unfortunate or an unlucky driver, while the other drunk who did not kill anyone would be deemed fortunate or a lucky driver.

The drivers are termed lucky and the unlucky based on the absence or presence of people on the roadside. Absence or presence of people on the roadside is outside the control of the drivers. But the accident could have been avoided if the driver had driven the vehicle without consuming alcohol. If there were no accidents, there is no question about the driver being lucky or unlucky.

Therefore, if the driver had been responsible, had he not consumed alcohol, the aspect of luck would have been eliminated. This is similar to a well prepared student who does not need luck to score high marks in his examination. His preparation was his responsibility, if he had been responsible in his preparation, he would not have needed luck to be successful.

So it appears as if luck emerges when the individual remains irresponsible.

Perfect luck is if a terminally ill patient is suddenly healed of the disease. But some theists would regard it a miracle. Thus, if randomness is the overriding foundation for any situation, even a miracle would be attributed to a random occurrence or luck.

Let’s rewind to the example of examination stated earlier. Would it be a random occurrence or would I be termed lucky if all the questions in the examination are from my very well prepared 50% segment?

But even in this instance, a factor such as my health is directly connected to my success. If I were unhealthy I would not have written the exam and even if I had written, I would not have been very successful.

However some would emphasize that health is a product of randomness. Is this a reasonable statement?

Randomness or chance can only occur in the absence of a dominant force that governs every situation. Chance or randomness would be a reasonable occurrence if an absolute and a sovereign being is not in existence.

If the existence of a dominant force or a sovereign being (e.g. God) can be reasonably posited to exist, then randomness or chance events would cease to exist or it would merely be a figment of one’s imagination.

Therefore, affirming randomness or chance is only possible through a denial of the existence of a sovereign being.

The sovereign being either determines or permits everything to happen within its domain. If everything happens in a season and for a reason then chance ought to be driven out of our life. Along with chance, luck should be thrown out of our windows.

If a sovereign being is to exist, it is not a random occurrence or I am not lucky if and when the questions in the examination are from my very well prepared 50% segment. It is a providential arrangement of events ordained by the Almighty God.

Luck from God’s Perspective

There are more than reasonable evidences for God’s existence – a supreme, sovereign and an absolute being. Therefore, God exists. The undisputed existence of God who knows all that has happened, is happening, will happen, and would have happened, relegates chance and randomness to a realm of fictitious imagination.

Because a sovereign God rules over everything, all the time, luck or chance or randomness cannot exist in HIS presence. Nothing happens without HIS knowledge and providence.  This is HIS sovereignty.

But there are verses in the Bible that refers to ‘chance.’ How do we interpret these verses e.g. 1 Samuel 6:9; 2 Samuel 1: 6; Ecclesiastes 9: 11; Luke 10: 31, in comparison with verses teaching God’s absolute sovereignty (Matthew 10: 29; Luke 12: 7; Isaiah 46: 9-11)? 

To resolve this tension we ought to determine if the verses mentioning chance denies God’s sovereignty. A good case in point would be the Lord’s words in Luke 10: 31-32, “And by chance a priest was going down on that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite also, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side” (NASB, Emphasis mine). Usage of ‘chance’ in this verse does not indicate a total absence of God. A word study of ‘chance’ asserts God’s providential arrangement of all circumstances.2

But 1 Samuel 6: 8-10 seems to contradict, “Take the ark of the Lord and place it on the cart; and put the articles of gold which you return to Him as a guilt offering in a box by its side. Then send it away that it may go. Watch, if it goes up by the way of its own territory to Beth-shemesh, then He has done us this great evil. But if not, then we will know that it was not His hand that struck us; it happened to us by chance (NASB, Emphasis mine).

The context of this verse affirms that these words were not spoken by God’s people. On the contrary, these verses were spoken by the priests and the diviners of the Philistines.  Therefore, those who do not believe in the God of the Bible could believe in chance occurrences, but ‘chance’ does not imply God’s absence. ‘Chance’ in these verses implies the ignorance of people who do not know and believe the one true living God.

The Bible clarifies that even lots that were cast were not random occurrences. The lots were cast specifically to know God’s mind about the matter concerned. Proverbs 16:33 says, “The lot is cast into the lap, But its every decision is from the Lord” (NASB). Therefore casting lots are not random occurrences.

Therefore, God’s sovereignty is undisputable.


In many instances, luck seems to emerge when an individual remains irresponsible. Luck justifies a person’s irresponsibility and motivates the person to continue his irresponsibility. This is evil.

But luck or chance or a random event will be true only if God is non-existent. Those who do not believe in God, namely the atheists or non-theists, would believe in luck, and they would wish luck upon themselves and others. Although they claim intelligence, their minds are so mute to the presence of the living God that they suppress truth and sell themselves to a despicable lie.

On the other hand, Christians or theists who believe in the presence of a sovereign God cannot use luck in their vocabulary, since no random event occurs in this universe. God is in active control over everything.

But there are those Christians who use the word luck so to mean God. A simple statement such as, “best of luck” could actually mean, “best of God’s blessings.”

In my humble opinion, Christians should consider saying, “God bless” or “I pray for God’s blessings” or even “I wish you God’s blessings.” In other words, eliminate ‘luck’ from vocabulary. If we really mean God, then let’s use the name of God to bless people than resorting to an ambiguous word such as luck (cf. Matthew 12: 36). Amen.



2 4795 sygkyría (from 4862 /sýn, "identified with" and kyreō, "to happen co-incidentally") – properly, what occurs together by God's providential arrangement of circumstances – all achieving His eternal purpose in each scene of life. 4795 (sygkyría) is used only in Lk 10:31.

Useful reads:


Dan said...

This article is similar to & supports your statements.

An e.g. of bad luck that I can relate is taking a shuttle to the airport many hours before take off but missing the flight because the shuttle was involved in a major accident, which had never happened before. People were seriously injured. I sustained minor injuries - good luck? But I arrived back at work 2 days late & lost my job.

But certainly, if you are a practicing Christian you will have better "luck" because you avoid stupidity that will result in "bad luck". If you drink to excess or take drugs you are not in control & all sorts of "bad luck" could befall you! If you are sexually licentious there are consequences - STD's, being maimed or killed in a fit of passionate rage by a jealous partner.

There are many other e.g.'s too numerous to mention. Our actions have consequences.

So I guess I agree with your blog!

Some things are difficult to understand. I recently read about American missionaries where the men left their families on a calling to work in Papua New Guinea. All of them were murdered. Years later the wife & daughter of one of them returned & successfully continue the missionary work. Angus Buchan, a MIGHTY warrior of the Lord, drove a tractor over his nephew, killing him. My only son died in 1990 - cot death. I survived a major motorcycle accident 51 weeks ago. That was not bad luck - I was driving too fast for my poor night vision. It was "touch & go" for the first 3 days, but I survived with minimal permanent damage. Now I'm confused - this is not good luck - I must have a purpose. I need to be still & listen.

God bless & thanks. Peace be with you.

Raj Richard said...

Thanks so much for your thoughts, Dan. Remain blessed. Grace & Peace :)