Hazard is one of those words that we use frequently, but never pause to think of its source. We know that its noun form means danger, and in its verb form it means to risk or expose to danger. I’ve heard the word hazard used in many instances to describe different situations and to issue a warning, such as:
- Hazardous Duty Pay
- Road Hazard Ahead
- Care to hazard a guess?
- Hazardous to your health
Then of course there were those Dukes of Hazard, but that was the county and not a particular situation. Their behavior was, however, rather hazardous at times.
The word hazard has an interesting origin. It is a form of the Arabic al zahr, and it means the dice. The history of the word goes back to the times of the Crusades in the Holy Lands.
The Crusaders became acquainted with a number of games that used dice. Early on, hazard was associated with the idea of danger because the dice were associated with the risky business of gambling and the con artists who used corrupted or loaded dice.
As we endeavor to live our lives, the journey requires us to negotiate a path through a myriad of hazards. Charting this course requires more than just a casual roll of the dice.
Paul cautioned the Colossians and warned them that the world system is playing with loaded dice: See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.
In one of the Winnie the Pooh stories, Tigger experiences an identity hazard because his stripes are washed off while bathing. Tiggers are recognized by their stripes and without his, Tigger isn’t sure who he is, so he tries being a rabbit, a bear, and a Christmas tree. This dilemma is resolved when Eeyore tells Tigger that he is always the same person on the inside.
To keep our stripes and maintain our integrity, we need to throw the dice away and heed the words of Solomon: Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight (Proverbs 3).
Here’s a thought to keep you thinking: What’s the hidden price of rolling the dice?