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The Luck of the Irish and the Providence of God

The Lord is good to everyone.   He showers compassion on all his creation.  - Psalm 145: 9 (NLT)

There is an old Irish saying that says,  "If you''re luck enough to be Irish, you're lucky enough!"  As we approach St. Patricks Day, I thought we could examine a topic that is near and dear to many today in the world - luck. Humans are an extremely superstitious bunch. We will carry severed appendages of small furry animals if we think it will bring fortune our way. We have lucky numbers, lucky clothing, and a lucky anything if we think somehow it will bring us this elusive concept we know as luck. The dictionary defines luck as:

"T he  force  that seems to operate for good or ill in a person's life  as the result of chance."

Now for the good news as Christians. We do not believe in luck. We do not believe in shadowy forces that can swing events or opportunities in our lives from good to bad depending completely on a whim. That does not mean that there are not shadowy forces in the spirit realm that try and sway us. It simply means that we serve a higher power. We serve the highest power. We serve God and God does not need to rely upon any mode of chance. Let the world wonder if their luck today will be bad or good - we believe in the providence of God! 

The foreseeing care and guidance of God; through His omniscience. 

That is the definition of the word providence. Which would you rather have as the working force in your life? A force that is randomly good or bad simply by chance? I know some people who live by the feeling that if it weren't for bad luck, they would have no luck at all. Or would you rather have your life guided and cared for by a God who is omniscient? That means He see all things throughout all time. People have asked me why God wouldn't let them get that promotion, land that big job, or even hit the lottery. My answer is always - because He can see what would happen to you and your relationship with Him if He did allow it. 

Let us look at the life of Joseph for a moment. From the perspective of luck, Joseph was pretty unlucky early on. Hated by his brothers and sold into slavery! That's some bad luck! Finally gets some good luck by prospering in the house of Potiphar only to watch his luck turn again when he is accosted by Potiphar's wife! He makes the righteous choice to avoid her advancements and what happens? He is thrown in jail for something he did not do! He would stay in the prison for 13 years. He finds some good luck in finding favor with the jailer but still he sits year after year. When he finally has a glimmer of good luck and hope with the cupbearer, his luck turns bad again as he is forgotten for two more years. From the age of 16 to the age of 30 - that is a streak of some bad luck. Of course, Joseph did not belive in luck because he served the one true God. Now let us look at the same events through the lens of the sovereign will of God.

Joesph's brothers hated him because he was allotted special treatment from their father and because Joseph had some arrogant petulance in him as a teenager. Telling them dreams about how they would all bow down to him one day. He was sold into slavery but if we read the entire context we will see that the brother's actually intended to kill him. But for the providence of God! Now we may look at something like this and say that God should have prevented the entire incident but we need to understand that God is writing the story. God sees all time and knows there is a great famine coming and His plan was for Joseph to save the chosen people - but he was not ready yet. So God's permissive will allowed Joesph to be sold into slavery where the providence of God would again ensure that he landed in the house of Potiphar. The Bible says that God prospered Joesph in the house of Potiphar. Even in our deepest valleys, God's providence is evident if we would look for it. Joseph passes the first test in refusing the advancement of Potiphar's wife and God's permissive will allows him to be thrown in prison. But realize that Potiphar was the Captain of the Guard and Egypt was not exactly a democratic state. He could have killed Joesph for such an offense but the providence of God ensures he only ends up in prison. Realize also that God intends for Joesph to ascend to the palace to be Pharoah's right hand man and solve the problem of the impending famine. It would be these events which would lead to the exodus from Egyptian slavery almost 500 years later, a foreshadowing of the Christ that was to come to deliver us from the slavery of sin, 1400 years after that. God's providence is based upon His omniscience. Joesph was not going to get to the palace from Potiphar's house as a slave. God was orchestrating the meeting between Joseph and the cupbearer when Potiphar's wife started making the advances! 

Yes, God allowed the cupbearer to forget Joseph for two years. Perhaps Joseph was not ready yet for the palace. Perhaps he was not yet reconciled in his heart about his brothers. Perhaps he was still harboring resentment for Potiphar's wife. God can orchestrate His will whenever He wants but usually if it seems like there is a delay - it may simply be because we are not ready yet. When Joseph is ready however we see the providence of God take off as he literally goes from the prison to the palace in one day. He saves the known world from the famine, reunites his family, ensures the continuation of God's chosen people and in the process begins the last 90 years of his life which would be prosperous and worry free. Not only that but for the next 400 years the nation of Israel grew astronomically under the great favor and providence of God, which all began when Joseph was sold into slavery at the age of 16. Joseph himself sums it up best when trying to assure his brothers that all was OK:

But Joseph replied, "Don't be afraid of me. Am I God, that I can punish you? You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.  - Genesis 50: 19-20 (NLT)

Not only the saving of lives but the foundation of the coming of Jesus Christ. God intended it all for good. Romans 8:28 tells us specifically that in all things - good or bad - God is working behind the scenes for our good. That leads us to the key verse today and why we can always trust the providence of God over the luck the world sells. Luck is solely based upon random forces but providence is based upon the omniscient plan of a good God. The key verse teaches us that He is good to everyone! Now, I know some may bristle at this because we do not always get what we want but the truth is that when God says no, that is a blessing as well. We just do not see it yet. The goodness of God cannot be based upon us getting our way but rather that we bend our will to Yahweh. Do you think Joseph wanted to be sold into slavery and jailed for 13 years for something he did not do? God is writing the story; yours and mine. Thank God that none of it is left up to something as capricious and fickle as luck. Thank God it is based upon His omniscient knowledge and inherent goodness. 

Still glad to be Irish though...may the wind be always at your back. 

Rev. Anthony

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Credentialed Minister of the Gospel for the Assemblies of God. Owner and founder of 828 ministries. Vice President for Goodwill Industries. Always remember that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to (more...)
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