A CAT MAY HAVE NINE LIVES, BUT YOUR’S NUMBER IN THE MILLIONS
Do you ever find yourself doing statistical analysis on your chances of survival? Have you ever said this to yourself? “As I go about doing chores the kids and pets constantly get under my feet, I’m stepping on play toys and dog chews, and I’m stumbling while climbing stairs and stepstools. It’s only a matter of time before I fall and break a bone.” Or, perhaps you’ve thought this. “Every year, I drive 30,000-40,000 miles on highways? Based on those statistics, it’s only a matter of time before I have a flat tire, a breakdown, or an accident.” Or, if you’re a member of the military, you might have also reasoned, “I’ve been in too many firefights on too many deployments. It’s just a matter of time before I become a casualty.”
Before he became king over Israel, David did the very same thing. He had survived numerous suicide missions against the Philistines, had twice escaped the point of Saul’s own spear, and was hunted down by King Saul’s army. Even in David’s own tribe of Judah, towns were betraying him to Saul.
As David conducted his own “risk assessment,” the faith and bravery David once displayed against Goliath (1 Samuel 17) crumbled. David’s outlook on life plummeted when he looked at the threat statistics and contemplated his chances of survival. He concluded, “One of these days I will be destroyed by the hand of Saul” (1 Samuel 27:1). In other words, “Based on the statistics, it’s just a matter of time before Saul kills me.”
Yet David’s conclusions were completely wrong. Why? He was only counting the threats and the “close calls.” David failed to incorporate God into his risk assessment. He lost sight of God’s call on his life, the anointing oil of Samuel the Prophet, and of the Holy Spirit’s abiding presence.
And most of all, David was only counting the troubles, not the divine deliverances which accompanied each and every crisis. David needed to remind himself of something he had previously written in the Psalms. True, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all” (Psalm 34:19).
I once read about a Croatian school teacher, whose name was Frane Selak (pronounced “Frannie Selleck”). If any man had “many afflictions” it was this guy. In 1962 he was riding on a high-speed train when it jumped the tracks and plunged into an icy river. The wreck killed 17 people and injured many more. Frane Selak was among the injured, but after he made it to shore with just a broken arm he was thankful to be alive.
A year later, Frane Selak took his first plane flight. Flight attendants asked him to sit near the front of the aircraft, next to the emergency exit. In flight, the aircraft door suddenly flew open and Mr. Selak was instantly sucked out of the aircraft. The sudden loss of cabin pressure caused the plane to crash, killing all the crew and passengers – all except Frane Selak. He had miraculously landed on a haystack and escaped with only minor injuries.
In 1966, Frane Selak took his first bus ride. The driver lost control of the bus and drove it off the road and into the river. Four passengers perished, but Mr. Selak received only minor lacerations and bruises.
In the 1970s Frane Salek was involved in a number of serious auto accidents. In one he crawled from his wrecked car just a few seconds before the gas tank exploded and flames consumed the car. In another, his car again caught fire, but his only injury was that some of his hair was burned off.
In 1995 a hurdling city bus struck him – but he somehow managed to walk away from the accident with only cuts and bruises. The following year, while driving along a winding mountain road, he drove his car off the cliff to avoid hitting an oncoming truck. He was thrown from the car and landed on the branches of a tree. From the tree Mr. Selak watched his car plunge 300 feet to the bottom of the ravine and explode in flames.
Based on his accident rate and risk assessment for the future, you’d probably think this man would never leave his house again. But Frane is a man of faith. He not only counts the trials of his life but also his many escapes. He counts and reminds himself of God’s many deliverances. In his own words, “I am either the world’s unluckiest man, or the luckiest. I prefer to believe the latter. I know God was watching over me all these years.”
We all have the same choice. We can focus on the troubles or on the deliverances God brings about on our behalf. If we do the former, we’ll go crazy. If we do the latter, our faith will grow and we’ll experience God’s peace. Doesn’t it make perfect sense to count God’s deliverances?
And honestly, in the long-term aren’t these many trials making us stronger, wiser, and more Christ-like (Romans 5:3-5; James 1:2-4)? Aren’t they refining our motives and our faith into pure gold (Job 23:10)? Aren’t they preparing us for eternity with God in heaven (Hebrews 12:4-11)? So, why should we dread them?
So, the next time you’re tempted to do your risk assessment and statistical analysis, please remember this. God is for you, not against you (Romans 8:31). Statistics and odds mean nothing to Him. Don’t say to yourself, “It’s just a matter of time before I fall. A cat only has nine lives.” God’s got millions of lives for you. Besides, He has willed that you live, triumph, and be eternally saved. No trial ever comes upon you that is not perfectly planned and accompanied by a deliverance. You will never receive one without the other. So, count the deliverances.
PRAYER: Dear Father in heaven, open my eyes to see Your continual activity in my life. Help me to understand Your mysterious ways to save me, preserve me, and make me fit for heaven. Grant, O God, that I will grasp Your infinite power, love, and wisdom that You relentlessly exercise on my behalf. In Jesus’ holy name I pray, Amen.