Blessed, Determined, or Lucky?

I’ve noticed something interesting in the last couple of months. A number of my friends and acquaintances — particularly people I’ve met in college and at the NABJ convention last summer — are firmly rooted in their religious beliefs and have a tremendous amount of faith in God and his role in their lives.

As I’ve said before, I have no religion, and very little, if any, faith. So it is a bit baffling, and a little frustrating, if I am being completely honest, to see friends who are incredibly skilled and ambitious attribute all of their career and life successes to God. I have some trouble believing He has nothing better to do than help people get internships or jobs, when there are far more pressing matters in the world. And why would any one person’s success merit His intervention more than another’s? Perhaps this is ignorance on my part — I am by no means a theologian — but didn’t God give humans free will, meaning we could do whatever we wanted? So what if what you wanted was in direct opposition to what He wanted for you? What then? If you accept that we have free will, how can you also accept that your landing a job at your dream company was His plan all along? Why wouldn’t you attribute it to something more concrete, like the fact that you were more qualified than other candidates, or that you made the best impression during the interview? And what of top executives who are agnostic or atheist? If they don’t believe in God, how do you explain their success? Or is God’s intervention in our lives not dependent on our belief in Him?

Or, to play devil’s advocate (no pun intended), maybe it comes down to dumb luck. Maybe you just happened to bump into the right person at a party, who just happened to work at, or knew someone who worked at, your dream job, and they put it in a good word for you. Or maybe you applied for one position, but it was just filled, but the recruiter thought you looked good for a different position that was still open. Obviously, these are highly hypothetical scenarios, but not entirely impossible. We hear about those chance encounters almost every day, hear about a friend being in the right place at the right time talking to the right person.

Or maybe you don’t believe in luck, or coincidence, and believe that everything happens for a reason. That reason could be, as I said in my second paragraph, that you were the best person for the job.

To be clear, this isn’t my attacking faith or religion, or attempting to discredit anyone’s beliefs. It is simply something that I’ve found intriguing and want to understand better. Are we too quick to hand over our lives to a higher power, without any regard to our own actions? Or is there really a higher power at work, that may be God, or serendipity, kismet, destiny, or whatever other name you want to give to it?

I’m completely open to discussion on this, so feel free to leave your comments below.

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