Here are some previous thoughts on the subject of Faith. When you have finished on this page, click Back to look at other topics.

The Moscow Federation of Sportive Pig-breeding is organizing pig races. The biggest pig racing track is at the city’s Crocus-Expo pavilion, but many others are opening up as well. The ‘military’ breed of pig is best. “These swine are long-legged, lean, nimble, in good sportive form and craving for victory," said one of the coaches, Sergei Spirin. "They don't have a feed before the start and get a carrot at the finish. The grunt of the contestants' mum also cheers them along". Mr Spirin, who is also a vet, said the pigs had been coached daily for months to get into prime condition for the gruelling races.

The thought of food and the encouragement from fellow-swine keeps the pigs going. As we race through our lives, we look for rather more incentive than that. Perhaps the most effective inspiration comes when the route to the fundamental goal of our lives provides its own rewards. This was what the apostle Paul experienced. In his aim to develop a deeper oneness with Christ’s hopes for him and the world he also found a greater ability to receive what Christ could offer. It was this which kept him going through very difficult times.

Let’s today be grateful for any help we get as we face challenges in our lives. It may not be our “mum” who cheers us on but encouragement from friends, and from faith in Christ if we have it. Let’s be glad too when what we’ve chosen as the central direction of our lives provides its own motivation. Unlike the pigs, we perform better if we feel rewarded throughout the race and not only at the end.

If things don’t seem to be going too well at the moment, you could try enrolling in the Luck School. Part of the University of Hertfordshire, students learn there how to make luck happen. Whole businesses have enrolled and seen, in some cases, a 20% rise in profits, while individuals who thought they were down on their luck see things very differently now.

The course tutor, Richard Wiseman, has identified five principles at play among lucky people. They maximise their chance opportunities by having networks of friends; they’re relaxed enough to be open to different ways of achieving their goals; they are open to intuition and listen to their hunches; they expect things to go their way; they are able to see the positive side of bad fortune and so are better able to deal with it.

So luck, if you’ve got it, can be harnessed. So, said St Paul, can faith. Unlike luck, faith comes by choice not chance and is a response, not to fate, but to God’s offer of loving care. But once adopted, says the apostle, you need to “work out your salvation”*. Its up to the believer to build on the possibilities faith provides.

Whether it’s our good fortune we want to enhance or our faith we wish to develop, we might benefit from applying the principles of the Luck School.

*Phil 2:12