UPDATE: This post has been a lot of fun and I’ve enjoyed the feedback from it. Most people had no idea that the concept of luck is actually in the Bible! Other’s say, “Do you really believe in luck?” This reminds me of a preacher I once knew who said, “It’s hard to build doctrine from Ecclesiastes.” This indeed contains the key to the text at hand:
I have observed something else under the sun. The fastest runner doesn’t always win the race, and the strongest warrior doesn’t always win the battle. The wise sometimes go hungry, and the skillful are not necessarily wealthy. And those who are educated don’t always lead successful lives. It is all decided by chance, by being in the right place at the right time. (Ecclesiastes 9:11, NLT)
The observation of the Preacher in Ecclesiastes is accurate. How can life in this world be stated any more accurately? Incompetence, ignorance, and weakness frequently somehow bring people to the top while the best among us are despised and rejected. With that being said, I agree with the ones who state that the “time and chance” part of the text reflects the natural perspective of the Preacher’s observation. It sure seems that those who are in the right place at the right time are the ones that are successful, and the inverse of that is true in that many people seem to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, but to think that this is all chance contradicts the teaching of the Bible that God is in control. David said,
Everything in the heavens and earth is yours, O Lord, and this is your kingdom. We adore you as being in control of everything. Riches and honor come from you alone, and you are the ruler of all mankind; your hand controls power and might, and it is at your discretion that men are made great and given strength.
1 Chronicles 29:11 TLB
Therefore, when you see things around you not working out the way they ought to, keep in mind that it’s not luck or chance. God has decided to allow it (His ways are above our ways) so we should accept it while pursuing the best that He has for each of us!
Have you ever looked around and wondered why so many stupid, irrational, incompetent, and ignorant people seem to be successful? Or maybe you work with a boss who is functionally challenged: why does he get paid more than you do? After all, you have the education, knowledge, and experience to run the department or even the whole company, but instead of you, the powers that be have installed a loser ahead of you and it’s upon his/her shoulders on which the success or failure of the business is laid.Â Why does this happen so often?
I have a maxim that partially defines the life of an American worker: â€œThe amount a person gets paid is inversely proportional to how much work that person does.â€ Thus we have those in higher positions inevitably absent from productive work and present on the golf courses, in the bars, traveling, or vacationing at Summer/Winter/Spring/Fall homes while the people who are actually producing, making the tough decisions, and wading through the irrational managerial crap thatâ€™s dumped on them, and using their intellect to solve the many problems that come along get the pennies. That maxim only partially describes the scenario, because after all don’t we all work hard so that we can get a better job where we have to do less work? So, some people who do little or no work have earned it through years of rigorous toil in the past. Still, how do we explain the stupid, the rude, the incompetent, and the irrational who often hold the high ground against the educated, reasonable, intelligent, courteous, and wise?
Often I have reminded those around me that a person’s income is not necessarily a reflection of that person’s intelligence. Furthermore, a position one holds does not indicate that one is qualified to hold that position. You can look at this from another perspective as well: those in lower positions are not necessarily less intelligent, and one in poverty may very easily be wiser and more intelligent than the wealthy. I know that most of you know exactly of what I speak.
We can rationalize almost everything, regardless of whether our rationalization is valid or not. Some people don’t have to work for their money. Maybe a man’s parents have died and for some reason wanted to leave their wealth to their children. After all, not everyone tries to exhaust their wealth while alive for the express purpose of not allowing it to fall into the hands of their descendants. Perhaps it’s the saying that hard work pays off, but we all know that is not always true. The world is littered with people who worked hard and accomplished great things only for someone else to take credit and reap the rewards. Then you say that a person got lucky, only to be rebuffed by one who â€œdoes not believe in luck. So how are these contradictions explained? Believe it or not, the Bible has the answer to this question.
Solomon is pretty much undisputed in his position of wisest man who ever lived, although he developed serious foolishness in his later years that acted to moderate his reputation. He wrote the biblical book of Ecclesiastes in which he sought to discern the meaning and the purpose of life. On his journey of reasonable thought, he explained why the stupid, unqualified, and irrational often succeed more than those who are educated, experienced, qualified, and wise (you see, the same things that are going on now have been going on for a very long time). The Preacher of Ecclesiastes said:
I have observed something else under the sun. The fastest runner doesn’t always win the race, and the strongest warrior doesn’t always win the battle. The wise sometimes go hungry, and the skillful are not necessarily wealthy. And those who are educated donâ€™t always lead successful lives. It is all decided by chance, by being in the right place at the right time. (Ecclesiastes 9:11, NLT)
So you might be fast, strong, intelligent, wise, and skillful but don’t think you’ve attained to the world’s standard of success: don’t worry about it! I don’t mean that you shouldnâ€™t work hard and do everything you can to better yourself. To the contrary, we should all strive to be the best we can be in every aspect of life. What I mean is, don’t feel bad just because you get paid less than a moron. Don’t let anyone put you down, making you feel inferior or stupid: you don’t need to prove anything either, because those above you probably already know that you are better than they are. There’s more to life than money, wealth, and status; and oftentimes the best among us are despised and ignored. Keep on doing your best and working for God’s glory¦ who knows? Maybe one day you will find yourself in the right place at the right time too!