I find it funny how often people talk about coincidence. I find it funny because I do not believe in coincidence. I don’t believe in random or mere chance–I am utterly and completely convinced of the truth that where man supposes, God disposes. In other words, I know that God has a plan, and while I may not understand the plan, or in fact even acknowledge the existence of Him or His plan, his plans will not be thwarted. Sometimes we even must suffer a bit before the plan is worked in us and our lives–suffering is a promise of the Christian life. (It is a hard one to swallow, and I have rarely heard sermons on the idea of suffering, but it is a theme throughout Scripture, and I would be a fool to ignore what Scripture tells me to expect. I digress.)
I have been having a difficult time in church. Many changes in my life have magnified the changes in my church, and I am struggling. I find myself cast adrift from all the connections in our church that I so treasured. The closeness and community we had has been completely disrupted, and I find myself mourning losses that I didn’t expect to feel so deeply. It has been completely disconcerting. In the midst of that struggle, I have a husband who has been very supportive, and even my pastor, though part of the cause of my struggle, has shown me grace upon grace in allowing me the space the time I need to heal. So this morning I found myself eagerly going to a church about an hour away to worship in a service that is very much like the one that we had in our church six years ago when we arrived. I have friends in this church I visited–and they were so sweet to once again take me under their wings and make me feel welcome and not alone.
Was it a coincidence that the pastor’s sermon began with him discussing connections? Was it a coincidence that he referenced things that my friend Dea and I had discussed only last weekend? Was it a coincidence that the one thing that has caused me such grief is the one area that the pastor would challenge me to re-examine. He led us in an examination of Romans 11: 13-25. I encourage you to read it for yourself, but the gist of the message to me was, what am I plugged into? Am I living as if I am grafted into the tree of life, sustaining my very life (every moment of every day), or am I trying to plug into my own righteousness, relationships, connections–looking to those things for the sustenance that can only come from Jesus? It was a challenging message to me. And it was no coincidence that I was there for it. I cannot promise that I will cease to struggle, but at least I was reminded today of how to find that peace again. Ironically, it has nothing to do with what I need to do, but rather resting in what has already been done for me.
As good as the message was–and it was very good–what happened after church was pretty neat, too. As I was talking with my friend, her husband was talking with a man who had been standing near the door when I arrived. He was also a second-time visitor, and it turns out that he works for a company that specializes in green engineering and building. Our friend was talking to this man about a mutual friend who is currently in Afghanistan working for a contractor in order to provide for his family. (He is miserable, working seven days a week, 12-16 hours a day, away from his family, missing milestones of his youngest child’s last year of school.) Our friend turned to me to verify what our mutual friend had done for a living, and after I had done so, I asked the man if he could ever use someone with the Handy Man’s experience. The man said yes and told me the Handy Man could send him a resume.
Coincidence? I think not. I believe it was God-ordained that I should be at that church this morning. It doesn’t mean that we definitely have a job, or even that the Handy Man will get an interview, but it is the most promising lead we have had thus far. And this man is a brother in the Lord, a fellow Christian who seemingly wants to find other men like himself for his company. It was an encouragement we desperately needed today.
God is so very good to us. The next time something “coincidental” happens, perhaps you will look at it a little differently and realize that the God of Heaven cares about us–He cares so much that He allows even little things to happen for us to bless us. He cares so much that He sent His Son to take our place in punishment for our sins. He cares so much that he gave us a blueprint in Scripture to teach us how to walk in grace. Of this, I am absolutely convinced: it has nothing to do with random chance.