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A string of bad luck?

I know a young Christian man who is having “a string of bad luck.” We Christians don’t believe in luck—we believe in Providence and we believe in the devil, but we don’t believe in impersonal fortune. Let me just say that things have been going so consistently poorly for this guy that coincidence has spurred sober consideration.

There are the clustered keys-locked-in-the-van incidents ($125 for a locksmith one time), the fender benders, the multiple van breakdowns and repairs, the defection of his employee to another company, the jobsite mishaps due to others’ negligence, and most recently the loss of a wallet with all his cash and identification.

One must be careful in contemplating misfortune (there’s that worldly word again) because above-the-law-of-averages setbacks don’t necessarily mean God is rebuking a person. Indeed, these trials may well be God’s allowance into the life of the righteous man to test his faith like a furnace tests metal, the better to show its genuineness:

“… for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:6-7).

But on the other hand, these mishaps could be divine rebukes to get a person’s attention. There is no guesswork about the principle of mishap as rebuke because God Himself discloses it:

“But if you will not obey the voice of the LORD your God … then all these curses shall come upon you and overtake you. Cursed shall you be in the city, and cursed shall you be in the field. Cursed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl. … Cursed shall you be when you come in, and cursed shall you be when you go out” (Deuteronomy 28:15-19).

That just about covers everything. All that you touch will turn to mush sooner or later if you are in an active state of disobedience. Even your prayers are hindered (1 Peter 3:7). Even your worship is a stench (Amos 5:21).

Knowing something about the young man, I alerted him to the rebuke principle, early in the course of his plagues. I even read him verses about the entrepreneur who makes a lot of money only to put it in a bag of holes:

“You have sown much, and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes” (Haggai 1:6).

I believe it’s either one. Either the “string of bad luck” in your life is actually God entrusting you with trials in order to build your character and prove your faith true, or it is God trying to get your attention so that you will repent of a stiff-necked area of your life and reverse your losing streak. There is no third possibility. And just knowing that helps. For in the first instance we may embrace God’s sanctifying purposes and “let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete” (James 1:4). And in the second we may repent and get back on the path of blessing.

For there is also this wonderful principle to consider:

“And if you faithfully obey the voice of the LORD your God … all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you. … Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the field. … Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl. Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out” (Deuteronomy 28:1-6).

That just about covers everything too.

Andrée Seu Peterson

Andrée is a senior writer for WORLD Magazine. Her commentary has been compiled into three books including Won't Let You Go Unless You Bless Me. Andrée resides in Philadelphia, Penn.


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Fortune is derived from the Latin goddess, Fortuna. She was the personification of luck, good or bad.

William H

I trust that after reading this lesson your friend is at peace with his trials.