Here’s the headline: “Ohio woman celebrates lottery win, then killed by car.” And here are the details of the story.
She wins $8000, celebrates in a bar, drinks, then leaves on foot, and is struck by a car. Not enough details to know if she stumbled, walked in front of the car, no knowing what happened. But it does make one wonder.
Especially after a vaguely similar thing happened yesterday to a friend of mine who was behind the wheel and struck a man who stepped in front of him. The man died from his error. The autopsy should reveal whether he was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
By now you may have guessed, “luck” does not figure prominently in my vocabulary. “Providence” does. “Guidance” appears not infrequently. “Will of God” pops out daily. But not “luck.”
Things do happen. Bad things. Inexplicable things. Seemingly random things. Now, some of those things can be traced to a person’s decisions. Things called consequences. Sometimes those consequences happen to us because of others’ decisions.
At other times, however, the connections are not so clear.
How God rules this world remains a mystery to man. The apparent randomness in the world, and it might be just that, provides us the playing field for the exercise of faith, the response of submission and contentment, the commitment of trust in the divine promise that he works all for good and weaves his will into the fiber of every moment, however ill or evil we may consider a given slice of time.
What we consider a boon may turnout to be a bane. Winning the lottery led to death. If the Ohio woman had not won, she would not have been in the bar celebrating and drinking, would not have been walking at that particular moment in that particular way on the street.
What we consider a bane may well reveal itself a boon. George got fired from his job. No obvious blessing there. But he started up his own business and today is a millionaire. What at first seemed to be a disaster became an opportunity for advancement.
The human eyeball is a remarkable piece of engineering, perfect for the purpose for which it was designed. But it is short-sighted when focused on events in the flow of time and space. It cannot see into the future, nor can it identify precisely what is and is not good fortune.
This does not mean, at all, that humans are pawns in an invisible, cruel game of life, or detritus floating on a stream of hidden currents and eddies. God has given life rules, structure, causes and consequences, laws that work as flawlessly, if not as obviously, as the gravity that pulls the apple on the tree down to earth. Acting in concert with those inexorable laws and the structure of the universe and our little piece of real estate in it is called wisdom.
For all that, however, there remains the lottery win and the death of celebration.
The explanation for that is simple and has a name. The sovereignty of God. Perhaps it marks me as a shallow person, but I’ve found the intricate theological discussions of direct and indirect cause and will of God to be a bit confusing and tedious. God does as he pleases, is beholden to no one, moves man and history towards the end he desires and works as the Almighty in his creation, the potter with the clay.
Since God does not follow capricious whims and whip up last-minute plots, the thought is most comforting that “[o]ur God is in heaven! He does whatever he pleases!” (Psalm 115:3 NET). He works patiently and tirelessly toward his good goal.
Rather than attribute to God the evil that occurs in the world, sluffing off our guilt upon the Guiltless, the ancient truth should ring in our ears when things happen like the lottery winner’s death: “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” (Proverbs 19:21 ESV).
Luck? I’ll take my chances with the Lord.