Hurricane Irma has some hard lessons for us. I’m not talking about better preparedness, evacuation plans, and the like. These are lessons about faith and discipleship.
Consider, for example, the statement, “Thank God, we were lucky” regarding the significant weakening of the storm as it moved northward toward our region. Perhaps I’m at a loss to explain this statement because my seminary neglected to teach me the theological underpinnings of luck. More likely, I’m confused because the statement is nonsense. Simple logic suggests that one would offer God thanks only if God had been in control of the storm. Luck, by contrast, points to favorable chance or randomness. If that explains the storms movements, why bring God into it? Yet, I’ve heard luck mentioned by multiple people of faith as some critical ingredient that guided Irma’s path.
Elijah asked the Israelites at Mount Carmel, “How much longer will you waver, hobbling between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him! But if Baal is God, then follow him!” (1 Kings 18:21) Perhaps Elijah’s choice for us is, “If the Lord is God, follow him! But if Luck is your God, then follow him!”
I wonder if this theological muddle exists to cover up the fact that we can’t explain how God is sovereign and, at the same time, why hurricanes destroy precious things and take lives. We can’t explain why the prayers of many in my area for protection seem to have been answered while those in other areas, praying with equal fervor, were not granted. Combining God and Luck may be our way of having our cake and eating it too. We get to keep a sovereign God and use Luck to explain what is uncomfortable to consider.
We need to do better than this. There are answers to these questions – good answers! Is it time for you to engage some difficult questions? Is it time to work toward a mature faith? I pray the answer is yes. Jesus offers us so much more than luck!