Good Fortune

money-hands flickr eperales

If I asked you, “Who is the main character of the Bible?”, most of you could give the typical preschooler Sunday School answer of “God” or “Jesus.”

If I asked you who is the main character of the book of Esther, you would either say, “Esther” (duh) or “God.” I would lean towards the latter, and you may agree. But do you know how many times God is mentioned in that Old Testament book?

Zero.

Don’t believe me? Go ahead and check. The book of Esther is one of two in the Bible in which the Lord is not mentioned one single time. (The other? Song of Solomon.)

So God is not mentioned in this account of Esther’s life. But does that mean He was absent from her life?

Of course not.

I think that’s the beauty of the book — that God was at work the entire time, making events line up perfectly to accomplish His will, and all the while He doesn’t get direct credit.

“And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”  Esther 4:14

Good Fortune Makes a Good Story

Last month, I watched two movies on one weekday. I watched Turbo with my kids in the afternoon, and then The Butler with my wife at night.

(Don’t judge me for sitting on the couch for 4 hours. It had been a busy month for us, and I needed to relax. And I had a rent-one-get-one code for Redbox.)

Turbo is the story of a snail who becomes supercharged and is able to compete in the Indy 500. I can boil the story down to this formula:

Dreams + Dedication + Friends + Good Fortune = Success

The Butler recounts the life of Cecil Gaines, who went from picking cotton as a boy to serving eight presidents in the White House. Likewise, I can summarize the plot like this:

Hard Work + Humility + Teachers/Mentors + Good Fortune = Success

You see that a common denominator in both stories is “good fortune.” Both Turbo and Gaines happened to be in the right place at the right time, over and over again. Of course, some of those “right times” didn’t seem so great in the moment (like the snail being captured by a taco salesman, or Gaines getting caught stealing food). But all the moments combined to lead them toward success.

“Success always comes when preparation meets opportunity.”  Henry Hartman

More Complicated

Another thing that stuck me, particularly in The Butler, was that attaining success is complicated issue. When you look at the Civil Rights era, there were many groups of people each working for their own ideals. Sometimes people with the same goal (such as equal rights) went about it in different ways.

In the African-American community, there were many different perspectives on what needed to be done. People fell somewhere on this spectrum (usually on one far end or the other):

  • Be slow and patient and peaceful, or
  • Get want you want now, and with force if necessary.

Who’s to say which is the right way to get what you want? I guess no one is completely right or wrong. Especially when we have similar goals and different methodologies, we need to be gracious and understanding with each other.

Whichever method you use isn’t so important as being intentional and purposeful in all that you do. Don’t be loyal to your method; be loyal to your goal, and to loving others.

A Reminder for Us

The stories of Esther and Turbo and Cecil Gaines are great reminders for us, especially when we feel like God is distant. We may be hurting or lonely. We may be crying out and wondering why He isn’t answering.

He may be silent, either because of His purpose or because we aren’t listening. But we can know that He is working things out for His glory and for our ultimate good.

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways.”  Isaiah 55:8 

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”  Romans 8:28

Related Links:

**photo courtesy of eperales via flickr

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