O Fortuna! What a deceptive and malignant idol you are, yet you continue to court man’s affections and to win his worship. Your legacy pervades our culture as man continually forgets the Sovereign and assumes the random.
How unfortunate for the man who looks to you.
Fortune deceives, but God astounds. While the mythological Fortune is haphazard in her ways, Almighty God is intentional and active in even the smallest detail of our lives — absolutely no circumstance, no decision, no acquaintance is mere luck or chance. There is no such thing. There is Sovereignty. Fortune laughs and spins her wheel indiscriminately, while the Lord ordains, guides, and directs with great purpose.
Oh, people don’t like that idea. (The God one.)
Remember the premise of the movie The Butterfly Effect?* Every decision, including the seemingly insignificant, forever alters a thousand tomorrows in what could be big or little ways. You never truly know the extent of how the trajectory of your life affects those around you — unless you’re Ashton Kutcher — but the message is that it does. Your life very profoundly affects those around you. (In big and little ways.)
That’s a little terrifying. For Ashton’s character in the movie, his decisions determined whether his girlfriend stayed his serious girlfriend throughout college, was instead a friend’s girlfriend, or ended up being a crack whore. He keeps identifying decisions he made that caused some undesirable effect, and then he goes back to those moments in time and makes a different decision. It’s really heartbreaking in parts, and overall leaves anyone without the ability to time travel feeling rather helpless. (Ironically, for all his supernatural extra-chronological powers, Ashton feels pretty helpless himself.)
While the concept of luck or fortune is that good or bad circumstances are disseminated indiscriminately — and that’s disturbing enough — anyone with any kind of critical thinking skills can identify along with Ashton at least a few cause-and-effect relationships in the rear view mirrors of our lives. And of course, there are those events that come as a total surprise in the moment, but you can still make connections.
“If I hadn’t taken that exit.”
“If I hadn’t been late to work.”
“If I hadn’t gone for that interview.”
We’re so weird. Sometimes it’s good or bad luck, sometimes we focus way too much on ourselves or others. It’s rare that we ascribe greatness and sovereignty to God.
We speak in terms of how fortunate we were to be able to conceive, or how it was just pure luck that we saw that job posting. When giving disappointing news, we continue to ascribe power to an old idol and preface the conversation with, “Unfortunately…”
No. It is not random. There are no coincidences, no accidents. Nothing is left to chance. That’s a lie from the enemy that we’ve accepted so implicitly that we’ve become complicit to it. Our own speech betrays us. This is perhaps strange, but I’ve recently felt convicted about my using words such as fortunate, unfortunate, and luck. By doing so, we’re stealing glory from God and ascribing worth and power to a man-made idol. So I’m (trying to be) done with those words. Because:
Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all. Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all.
1 Chronicles 29:11-12
*I mention this movie with caution. It is rated R, and I encourage you to do your research before deciding whether to see it, if you haven’t already. I watched it well before I exercised any judgment whatsoever in my movie-watching, so I make no endorsements here.