Authored by Tina Kapp
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 fake 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 it was 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 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 having a positive attitude, because we can be confident that the Lord will step in and help us out any time we need Him. Positivity and faith are a powerful combination.
Of course, it’s not easy to always be positive and have faith. We are often tempted to doubt or be negative during tough times. Like Peter did when Jesus called him to walk on the water. He managed 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?”1
I think that’s a fairly clear view of what positivity and negativity do to you. Positive thinking gives you the faith to step out and do something that might seem crazy or adventurous, while negative thinking immediately shows you all the reasons why something isn’t possible, might not work, or how you might fail. Sometimes, it may even keep you from trying.
What faith does, when you add it to the mix of thinking positive, is keep you from giving up when things don’t seem to be working out. In this documentary, 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 perfect example of embracing opportunities in life is Benjamin Franklin. He was always keen on finding ways to fix problems or make things work better.
Ben 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 let him see both near and far. He had two pairs of spectacles cut in half and put half of each lens in a single frame. Today, we call them bifocals.
Ben’s friends’ and neighbors’ houses often got struck by lightning during storms; they would also catch fire due to having unsafe fireplaces. Rather than writing it off as terrible, or unlucky, or despairing about it, he discovered ways to make things safer. Eventually he invented the lightning rod, as well as 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.2
Fact number one: It was a land “flowing with milk and honey,” which was a groovy 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!3
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!4
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!”5
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.”6 Now that’s a seriously positive, looking-on-the-bright-side 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 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 like, SO with us.”7
So, naturally, the Israelites talked about stoning them and getting themselves a new leader to lead them back to Egypt.8 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.9
They were the only ones of their generation who were allowed to live in the Promised Land! Talk about feeling lucky! And just in case you didn’t know, the word lucky is said to 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 put God to the test and have Him show us the good we can gain from it. This doesn’t mean that God creates bad situations just to teach us lessons or test His children, but it does mean that no matter what bad happens in the world, God can bring good from it.
Thomas Jefferson said, “I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.”
Seneca, who was a Roman philosopher from the mid-first century AD said, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”
John the Beloved said, “For everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.”10
To me it seems that luck is really a combination of things:
—Hard work and focus
—Responding positively to opportunities when they come along; not turning down chances due to thinking negatively or being afraid to fail
—Faith in God to point out the good in every bad situation, and therefore, not blaming circumstances on others
—Not giving up
The more opportunities you pursue, the better chances you have of succeeding. The more positively you look at a situation, the better your reaction will be.
The more trust you have in the Lord, the better He can lead and guide you to do things you might not even believe are possible.
1 Matthew 14:29–31
2 Numbers 13:6, 8, 16
3 Numbers 13:23
4 Numbers 13:28, 33
5 Numbers 14:1–3
6 Numbers 13:30 NIV
7 Numbers 14:7–9
8 Numbers 14:4
9 Numbers 14:21–24
10 1 John 5:4 NIV
Read by Amber Larriva. Music by sindustry(CC). Copyright© 2013 by The Family International