Do You Feel Lucky?
By Nina Kole
I watched an interesting documentary by a mentalist and illusionist magician, Derren Brown, called “The Secret of Luck.” He selected a small town that had a random dog statue in a park, and started a rumor that it was lucky to rub the dog’s head. They sent in a film crew to follow a few chosen members of the community—a butcher, a toy store owner, a pub owner, and so on—to see how far this rumor would go by having them all pat the dog’s head. The crew would then return and interview them after a week to see if anything good happened to them.
He set up several “lucky” things to happen to these selected few, such as a lady stopping them to ask simple “survey” questions and giving them an instant cash prize for their help. He also sent each individual a scratch card, where no matter which box they scratched, they would win a big prize.
He even set up a famous stand-up comedian with a flat tire; if the owners of the two local pubs offered to help change his tire, he would do a free show in their pub guaranteed to draw a big crowd and boost their business. One said he was too busy and told him to go to the garage for help. The other jumped in and helped right away and reaped the benefits!
Now the thing I found interesting about this was that at the beginning of this documentary, a few of the people they were focusing on had said that they were not lucky. One man in particular said that nothing good ever happened to him. Because of his attitude toward life, he didn’t bother to stop and answer the lady’s survey questions, he never scratched the card, and when they even put money on the road right where he walked, he didn’t see it. His negativity made him miss good things even when they were right in front of him.
Some of the others the film crew interviewed had said that a lot of good things had started to happen to them. This was even before they encountered some of these “lucky” setups. Because these individuals were positive by nature, they looked for opportunities where there was good, and they found them!
As Christians, we can take this a step further than simply striving to have a positive attitude, because we can be confident that the Lord is with us and cares for us and surrounds us with His goodness and mercy even during the tough times we face in life.
Of course, it’s not easy to always be positive and have faith. We may be tempted to doubt during times when our faith is tested, like Peter did when Jesus called him to walk on the water. He did so for a while, but when he saw the wind, he was afraid and began to sink. Immediately Jesus reached out His hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” He said, “why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:29–31).
Being positive gives you the faith to step out and do something that might seem crazy or adventurous, while having a negative attitude can cause you to see all the reasons why something isn’t possible, might not work, or how you might fail. Sometimes, it may even keep you from trying.
When you add faith to the positive mix, it will help you to not give up when things don’t seem to be working out. In the documentary mentioned earlier, Derren Brown concluded, “The difference between lucky and unlucky people is simply to what extent they respond and embrace opportunities in life.”
One person who I find a great example of embracing opportunities in life is Benjamin Franklin. He was always keen on finding ways to fix problems or make things work better. Here are a couple of examples:
Benjamin had poor vision and needed glasses to read. He got tired of constantly taking them off and putting them back on, so he decided to figure out a way to make his glasses so they would let him see both near and far. He had two pairs of spectacles—one pair for seeing at a distance and one pair for reading. He cut the lenses in half, then he put half of each lens in a single glasses frame. Today, we call such glasses bifocals.
Benjamin’s friends’ and neighbors’ houses often got struck by lightning during storms. The houses would also catch fire due to having unsafe fireplaces. Rather than writing it off as terrible or unlucky, or just despairing about it, he discovered ways to make things safer. Eventually he invented the lightning rod and a safer way of heating homes called the Franklin stove. He also started the first fire insurance company.
Back to the documentary. It also got me thinking about Joshua and Caleb in the Bible. They were part of a group of spies Moses sent to check out Canaan, the land God had promised to His people (Numbers 13:6, 8, 16).
Fact number one: It was a land “flowing with milk and honey,” which was a cool way of saying there were a lot of seriously plus-sized fruits and vegetables there. The spies cut a branch off a vine and it actually took two guys to carry ONE cluster of grapes back to show everyone (Numbers 13:23).
Fact number two: The cities were fortified and very large, and the people who lived there—the sons of Anak—were giants. Now these were not just basketball-player-sized tall people; the spies said they felt like grasshoppers next to them (Numbers 13:28, 33).
So most of the children of Israel cried themselves to sleep that night and said, “I’d rather have died in Egypt or here in the wilderness!” (Numbers 14:1–3).
Caleb, however, silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it” (Numbers 13:30). Now that’s a seriously positive, full-of-faith attitude! Most of the people must have felt pretty unlucky that the land God promised them was already occupied by giants, but Caleb looked at the prize—what they stood to gain if they conquered it—and God’s promises and focused only on that.
Joshua joined in by saying, in so many words, “The land we passed through and explored is totally legendary! If the Lord is pleased with us, He will lead us into that land—a land flowing with milk and honey, mind you—and will give it to us. Only don’t rebel against the Lord. And don’t be afraid of the people of the land, because the Lord is with us.” (See Numbers 14:7–9).
Then the Israelites talked about stoning them and getting themselves a new leader to lead them back to Egypt (Numbers 14:4). The Lord was really not happy with their attitude and told them that because of it, not a single one of the older generation would get to see the Promised Land after all, except for the two spies who had faith in God and His promises: Joshua and Caleb (Numbers 14:21–24).
They were the only ones of their generation who were allowed to live in the Promised Land! And just in case you didn’t know, the word lucky is said to have originally come from an old Dutch word meaning “happiness and good fortune.” Having faith in God definitely brought Joshua and Caleb a good amount of happiness and good fortune in that situation.
Any difficult or trying situation gives us an opportunity to place our faith in God and His promises and trust in Him to work all things together for our good. (See Romans 8:28.)
John the Beloved said, “For everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith” (1 John 5:4).
To me, what is often attributed to “luck” is really a combination of a few things:
- Responding positively to opportunities when they come along; not turning down open doors due to thinking negatively or being afraid to fail
- Having faith in God to cause all things to work together for good, and therefore, not blaming circumstances or others when facing challenges
- Hard work and focus
- Not giving up
The more opportunities we pursue as God leads us, the better chances we have of succeeding. The more positively we look at a situation, the better our reaction will be.
The more trust we have in the Lord, the more open we are to His leading and guiding us to do things that might seem difficult or impossible.
Adapted from a Just1Thing podcast, a Christian character-building resource for young people.
- Living in God’s Word
- God’s Healing Balm in Times of Grief
- Hurry and Worry
- One Thing Before All Things
- Faith Like Gold
- Learning About God’s Mercy
- Trusting Through the Silence
- A Life Well Lived, Today and for the Future
- How God Gave Me a Home
- Setting Our Affections on Things Above