Very Superstitious

Are you superstitious?  Gallup, the polling organization, reports that about 25% of Americans say they are.  With respect to some of the particulars, Gallup reports:

“More than a quarter -- 27% -- said they were superstitious about "knocking on wood," with 13% superstitious about a black cat crossing one's path, 12% about walking under a ladder, 11% about breaking a mirror, 9% about speaking ill of a person (that it will come true), and 9% about the number 13.  Again, younger people (under 30) were more likely than older people (65 and older) to be superstitious about a black cat (19% vs. 12%), breaking a mirror (21% vs. 10%), speaking ill of a person (15% vs. 5%), and knocking on wood (38% to 18%).  There was little difference in superstition by age on the other two items -- walking under a ladder and the number 13.”

I found it odd that only 9% of people say they are superstitious about the number 13.  Companies go a long way to avoid 13 for only 9% of the population.  Consider how many office buildings don’t have “13th” floor.  I’m thinking people weren’t completely honest in the Gallup poll.

My question is should anyone be superstitious, but, more importantly, should Christians be superstitious?  To help answer that, we first need to know exactly what superstition is, then we’ll consider what Scripture has to say.

The dictionary definition of superstition is “a belief or notion, not based on reason or knowledge, in or of the ominous significance of a particular thing, circumstance, occurrence, proceeding, or the like; irrational fear of what is unknown or mysterious, especially in connection with religion.”

The key words here are “not based on reason or knowledge” and “irrational fear of the unknown.”  When a person believes in a superstition, he attributes some power to something or someone he doesn’t even know exists.  For example, if walking under a ladder brings bad “luck”, what or whom causes this bad luck to occur?  If you don’t know, then why believe you’ll have bad luck?  That’s completely irrational.

Even more irrational is the belief that the number 13 is bad luck.  Consider the building that labels floor 13 as floor 14 (which I saw very recently).  Does simply changing the label really make the 13th floor the 14th floor?  Clearly not; the laws of mathematics do not change simply because we want to believe we can change them.  Even if we call it the 14th floor, it’s still floor 13.

What about superstitions and Scripture?  Remember, a superstition implicitly assigns some power to something or someone to bring about bad luck.  Yet Scripture says that God alone is all powerful, and controls everything that happens.  Proverbs 16:9 says, “In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.”  Proverbs 19:21 is similar:

Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails.”

Isaiah 46:10 states:

Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things that are not yet done, Saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, And I will do all My pleasure.” 

Furthermore, the Lord says in Daniel 4:35:

All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; He does according to His will in the army of heaven And among the inhabitants of the earth.  No one can restrain His hand Or say to Him, “What have You done?

My brother was born on Friday the 13th.  My grandfather, being superstitious, was extremely upset about him being born on this day.  Yet the date of his birth was directly appointed and controlled by God.  Acts 17 says:

24 The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; 25 nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; 26 and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation.

As Scripture makes clear, God controls all things and does as He pleases.  If He is in control of everything, then it is irrational and unreasonable for a Christian (or anyone, for that matter) to be superstitious.  Indeed, to be superstitious is to demonstrate that you do not believe what God has said in His word.  Furthermore, God does not want us to be without reason (e.g., Isaiah 1:18).  Therefore, a Christian should never be superstitious.

We should take great comfort in knowing that the Lord is in total, complete control of everything that happens.  Moreover, even when something bad does happen to us, we can rest assured that He is using every situation for His glory and our good (Romans 8:28).  So, feel free to walk under a ladder, break a mirror (preferably your own), stay on the 13th floor of the hotel, let a black cat cross your path, and enjoy all Friday the 13ths!  Our God is in control!