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Friday, December 3, 2010

First reference to Murphy's Law

Do You Know Murphy?

One of the icons of American society is Murphy. Murphy who you might ask,
well, Ed Murphy (as near as I can find out)! You may not actually know him,
but he has exerted a big influence in our society! What this particular
fictitious character is known for is his "law." I would almost bet you can
recite it from memory: "Anything that can go wrong will go wrong."

The first reference to Murphy's Law was in the April 1956 issue of
Scientific American in the "Amateur Scientist" column. In part the column
read: "Dr. Schaefer's observation confirms this department's sad experience
that editors as well as laboratory workers are subject to Murphy's Laws, to
wit: (1) If something can go wrong, it will. (2) When left to themselves,
things always go from bad to worse. (3) Nature always sides with the hidden

Believe it or not, the government is actually credited with the creation of
Murphy. In Navy educational cartoons of the 1950s there was an aircraft
mechanic named Captain Ed Murphy who bungled everything he touched and of
whom they repeatedly said: "If there is any way to do it wrong, he will."

There was a revision of Murphy's First Law added shortly thereafter: "If
anything can go wrong (with a mechanical system), it will, and generally at
the moment the system becomes indispensable."

We who try (and more often than we would like, fail) to live godly lives
have adapted the saying in this way: "No good deed goes unpunished." I
believe I have said that on more than one occasion myself. It's generally
said with humor about some situation, but sometimes in the utmost sincerity.

The problem with believing Murphy's law, is that it breeds a spirit of
pessimism! It kills the spirit of one trying to do some good deed and for
one reason or another fails or is misunderstood. Many people in the time of
Jesus actually thought Jesus had tried and failed to restore God's kingdom.
They didn't understand that it was a Spiritual kingdom he had been sent to
establish. They discounted God's working and God's plan for this world.

Today, how many things have you or the church tried, which seem to have
ended in failure? It often makes us want to give up and causes people to
say, "We tried that and it didn't work". To think like that breeds pessimism
and kills the spirit of God's people. For God's People, Murphy's Law is a
lie! When we believe we have failed at something we discount God's working,
His power and His plan for us and this world!

In Isaiah 55:8-9 we read: "My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts," says
the LORD. "And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just
as the Heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your
ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts." Maybe it's time we forget
about Murphy and begin to realize that God really is in charge of this world
and trust him to do the right thing!

Russ Lawson

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