A synonym (according to Merriam-Webster) is “two or more words or expressions of the same language that have the same or nearly the same meaning in some or all senses”.  The three words I am thinking of today are generally considered synonymous.  My suggestion to you this day is that their meaning is NOT the same in every sense – and that the difference is significant.

“What are these three words?” you ask.  The words I am thinking of are “lucky”, “fortunate”, and “blessed.”  Look up the word “lucky” and the first synonym suggested is “fortunate”.  The third is “blessed”.  Look up the word “fortunate” and the first synonym suggested is “lucky”.  And, again, the third is “blessed”.  However, interestingly enough, neither “lucky” nor “fortunate” is listed as a synonym of “blessed”.

To be sure, all three words speak of good things happening.  You have certainly heard the expression that it “is better to be lucky than good.”  And “Good luck” is clearly a very friendly expression no matter how we nuance the phrase – even when one says, perhaps cynically, “Good luck with that!”  And, I don’t know about you, but when I hear someone or something is referred to being “fortunate” it means that things are looking up … as “fortunate” is connected to “fortunes and riches.”

“So then, what is the difference?” you may ask.  My response is, “The difference is in the implication and the response.”  If I dare use directions as an indicator (and, please do not read politics or religion into this), I would suggest that “lucky” is to the right and “fortunate” is in the middle.  Luck refers to pure chance, without any cause or responsibility … and if there is no cause behind this “whatever” coming to me, then I am free to do with it whatever I please (you can read in this an unadulterated opening to be 100% selfish).  “Fortunate” as a neutral term, leaves openings in both directions.  It may be pure chance, or there may be a cause behind it … like ethnicity, hard work, circumstance, education, God, etc.  … and it leaves as an open question “What is the proper response?”  Does a fortunate occurrence direct us in an outward direction, or is it “an unadulterated opening to be 100% selfish?

So much for “lucky” and fortunate”, but today’s topic is “Three Words” … and that third one is “blessed.”  In directional language (see above), I place “blessed” to the far left.  It has a definite cause that leads in the direction of specific responses.  To be “blessed” means to be divinely favored … in other words there is a cause behind the “whatever” that is coming to me – and it is none other than our great Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  And, I would suggest, this cause eliminates the option of selfishness.  In the least, thanks and praise are connected to it … and that certainly is “in the least.”

“Fortunate”, as a neutral term, is thus benign and, though positive, is nondirectional … and is a part of every person’s story.  So, perhaps the real question is, “Would you rather be lucky or blessed?”  The danger of pure chance, of course, lies in the odds … and (“unfortunately”), the odds in life tend to be similar to the odds of the casino … and we all know why they spend so much money on advertising that says, “Try your luck with us.”

And then my mind is directed toward the Beatitudes (Matthew 5) … each starting with “Blessed are” … and we realize that we all are “blessed” in and through Christ Jesus (after all, “He died for all” – 2 Corinthians 5.15).  He is the cause that says, “for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8.28) … and who goes on to “suggest” the appropriate response – “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven.” (Matthew 5.12)

So, how would you classify your life … lucky (or unlucky) … fortunate (or unfortunate) … or blessed?  Before you answer, I direct you to some words from the Apostle Paul:  “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 1.3)  Then he goes on to say, “In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.  In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance.” (Ephesians 1.11-14)

Three words … perhaps three synonyms … but one significant difference … the implied “cause” that leads to totally a different response.  Thus, for me, I would much rather be “blessed” than “lucky”.  And, as a baptized believer, I know that the proper response to the greeting “Have a blessed day” is something like “Every day I live in Christ’s kingdom is.”

And now my only remaining question is “How will you be using these three words in the future?”

Three Words