Following in the footsteps of such esteemed scholars as our friend Sir Francis Bacon, I have decided to write an essay upon a topic which has been present in my mind for some time now, though it has been shoved aside repeatedly by the pressing responsibilities of my university studies. Indeed, these still remain, but at this moment they are of such a nature that I feel I may neglect them for a few moments in order to write something that is neither required nor subject to grading, and I sincerely hope that these writings will make the reader think about something he may never have thought about before, and perhaps even challenge his usage of the English language.
We often speak of luck. “What is luck?” one may justly ask. Luck is an abstract thing that is apparently believed to work in the life of every person either for good or ill, depending on its whim at the time. It may also be observed from usage that luck itself is neutral, for we speak both of good and bad luck. A certain dictionary describes luck as a “force.” I believe many people would not describe it thus, such as they might the “force” of the Star Wars legendarium, but if I were to take a survey of English speakers I believe it would become evident that most agree that luck is more the manifestation of random chance. The adjective “lucky” is applied to such serendipitous situations such as walking through town and discovering that a new ice cream shop has been opened, and is offering a free ice cream cone to whosoever may desire one, in celebration of their grand opening. It may also be used to describe one who barely misses a dread accident, such as a man who, while telling of his recent visit to a swamp, says that it was lucky that he wasn’t bitten by the many unforeseen alligators that he encountered.
Another oft-encountered phrase involving luck is heard when one person encourages another with the words “Good luck!” Assuming “luck” is the action of random chance upon one’s life, is this phrase as uplifting semantically as the well-wisher intends? Probably not. If I am going out into a dangerous part of the world to teach the good news of Jesus Christ, would you rather tell me that you hope things will work out in a mysterious, random manner, or would it be more effective for you to express your wish for God to bless my endeavour? If I am about to take an exam upon a difficult subject, I would much rather you wish me a clear mind and Godspeed than for you to say “good luck.”
I do not know how God works. As the esteemed poet Mr. Cowper wrote, “God moves in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform.” However, I most definitely believe that He does act in the lives of men through His providence, and with the knowledge that all good things come from God, credit should be given to our Creator when something we may call “lucky” happens in our lives. “God bless you” carries so much more semantic and spiritual weight than “good luck.”
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)
So we can confidently say,
“The Lord is my helper;
I will not fear;
what can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:6)
Blessed be the Lord,
who daily bears us up;
God is our salvation. (Psalm 68:19)
He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength. (Isaiah 40:29)