Two months after her heroic husband was killed on United Flight 93, Lisa Beamer was asked to say a few words at a Women of Faith Conference in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. You remember that Lisa was the 32-year-old widow of Todd Beamer, who was one of those killed trying to overcome the terrorists on Sept. 11, 2001.

In speaking to that women’s conference, this is part of what Lisa Beamer shared:

“I’ve chosen to live in hope ... the reason I’ve been able to do that is not because I’m a strong person. I don’t want anyone to go out of here thinking, ‘Wow, she’s so strong, look at her!’ The reason I’ve chosen to live in hope is because of the heavenly, eternal perspective God has given me. Hope comes from knowing that we have a sovereign, loving God who is in control of every event in our lives.”

To be sure, every one of us needs something to live by. For the rest of this article, let’s explore some of the things people try to live by.

First, there’s the person who claims to live by his successes. “He’s definitely on the way up,” his friends say. They go on to describe him as someone who really has something on the ball or one to watch.

Everything he thinks and does is geared toward moving up the ladder of success. Indeed, whenever he speaks, we can hear the refrain of Frank Sinatra’s classic song, “I Did It My Way.”

In reality, I think this man is much like the egocentric actor, John Barrymore, who is said to have remarked that his only regret after a long career in the theater was that he had not had the pleasure of seeing himself on the stage.

Second, there’s the person who claims to live by her wits. She says, “It’s a dog-eat-dog world and those, and only those, who grind and grab have any hope of outwitting others and taking the prize.” And so she bears down solely on the job — toils and strains, carefully noting every achievement and every loss.

Third, there’s still another person who claims to live by sheer luck. This person is free and reckless about the rules of the game, yet he always seems to come out on top. “He’s just lucky,” they say.

Pro golfer Lee Trevino has been called the luckiest golfer who ever lived. But what these people fail to realize is that Lee Trevino understood luck as the place where preparation and opportunity come together. As a golfer, Lee Trevino was always prepared for his opportunities.

But the man who claims he lives by sheer luck is different from Lee Trevino. You see, he only jostles those who are careful and prepared.

Truth is, luck will ruin your life if you count on it instead of careful preparation and hard work.

Now, to some folks these may appear to be legitimate and sensible ways to live. And this is especially true if the means and the ends have become confused. So what happens if a person’s success becomes failure, if a person suddenly comes to wits end, or if a person’s luck runs out? What then? By what then does a person live?

As we continue our journey through life, it would behoove all of us to give this some serious consideration. By what then does a person live?

Before concluding, just a word about the Old Testament character King Hezekiah, who was considered a good king. When his health deteriorated and his reign was in jeopardy, we are told that he turned in his bed and faced the wall. He turned toward God and prayed, with the result that his life was extended 15 years.

Point? When King Hezekiah faced the stern realities of life and lost it all, he found his something to live by in God. And so will we.

The Rev. Hal Brady is an ordained United Methodist minister and executive director of Hal Brady Ministries, based in Atlanta. You can watch him preach every week on the Atlanta Interfaith Broadcasters TV channel Thursdays at 8 p.m.