What’s luck got to do with it? Friday the 13th and God’s sovereignty.

Luck’s got nothing to do with it.

On January 13th, 2012 I gave birth to a child that had suffered severe medical distress. She was born thin, sickly-looking and unbelievably quiet; all the result of complications that nobody could have predicted. I was too sick to spend any time with her on the day of her birth, so she was whisked away to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit while the remainder of the medical staff dealt with me.

One of the staff members was a med student or a resident of some kind; younger than the rest by far.

In his naivety, the med student/Doogie Howser  pointed out (in an awkward attempt to lighten the mood, I think) that my daughter was born on Friday the 13th. An older nurse hushed the young doctor, “you’ll scare her with that. Be quiet.”

Usually, I am more pragmatic than superstitious. In that moment however, with tons of hormones, fear and painkillers raging through my brain,  he did scare me. It all seemed like a bad omen of some kind.

My husband was highly aware of my rising anxiety as the day passed, and so he called our church elders to come pray over me and my daughter. They drove two hours each way just to lay hands on a sterile plastic bubble in my daughter’s NICU room. My OB/GYN was my then-small group leader, and he made sure to repeatedly call me during my hospital stay to check on me. In a miraculous fashion, my daughter’s health did improve. Between her unfathomable recovery and the support of my friends, I realized that “unluckiness” had nothing to do with my daughter’s health. God knew this would happen, even if nobody else did.

God’s authority vs. imaginary luck

Cultural mythologies (like unlucky calendar dates) are mostly just a silly talking piece, but they do seem to influence how we respond to various occurrences throughout our lives.

We something good happens, we become giddy over our luck and forget to praise God.

When something bad happens, we insist that we are unlucky and forget that God is the author of all outcomes (good or bad).

Could you imagine how different our prayer lives would look if we abandoned the idea of “luck” entirely? How would you talk to God if you truly believed that He controlled everything?

I still think back to Katherine’s birth every time the calendar hits Friday the 13th. Only now I don’t see the day as “unlucky”, I see the day as a reminder of God’s sovereignty in all things despite our childish superstition and anxiety. And believe me when I say that superstition is a concept for children; I was a very young believer when I gave into the false idea that our fate is up to chance.

But maturing as a believer doesn’t mean we have to settle for limp platitudes like “everything happens for a reason” either, because God’s preeminence and influence is so much bigger than that. Over and over again, the Bible declares God to be the ultimate composer of our world and lives, weaving our individual stories together with His own story and purpose. God’s power over the universe gives us the ability to be bold and unafraid in uncertain circumstances, because to Him, the circumstances really aren’t that uncertain after all.

What’s luck got to do with it? Absolutely nothing.

Rejoice in that.






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