“It’s no coincidence that in no known language does the phrase “As pretty as an airport” appear” – Douglas Adams
Life is full of things that may be seen as mere coincidence, or strange irony. Some things just have an odd order of appearing. For instance, I was pretty pleased with myself for taking all of the musty sleeping bags out of the freezer they’d been stored in and carefully washing and drying each one with plenty of detergent and bleach and fresh air and sunshine. I felt very good about myself as a mom…..until my husband, who hadn’t yet smelled the funk, told me our 11 yr old daughter already took one, before I could wash it, on a 5-day field trip with her class. Sigh. It would be great to be the mom of something besides children sometimes, maybe houseplants. I do love my children, fiercely, possessively, like a bear with donuts mixed with bacon grease. (I saw this once in a National Geographic special on grizzly bears. In NO WAY am I condoning bear baiting, by the way.) Sometimes the level of ironic coincidence can be overwhelming, however.
Remember those times you searched and searched for something, only to find it the moment after the need for it has passed; like when you send your baby clothes and toys and equipment to Goodwill or sell it at a garage sale, and then learn you are yet again expecting? What would you call it if you walked out of a job and then found out you had been in line for promotion, or the time you refused to say “I love you”, or “I’m sorry”, and then death made your choice a regret? The different odd happenings in our lives can be humorous, tragic, or seemingly inconsequential; but even in the trivial matters, God’s fingerprints can be seen.
Many people ran late on the morning of September 11, 2001. The causes for their lateness were the usual things that make us run behind schedule. On that day, the trivial had lifesaving ramifications. Sometimes we end up on the road in a hurry and stuck in traffic, or behind a slow driver who will not pull over. Sometimes, many times, these ironic and frustrating situations just might be saving our lives. Even a swarm of hornets can be an instrument of God’s plan. (Deuteronomy 7:20) The phrase “the devil is in the details” rings false. It is not the enemy of our souls who arranges the day to day circumstances we find ourselves facing, but God.
Perhaps your situation is more calculated than coincidence. Perhaps you are under some sort of trial that is the creation of your enemies. God has much in store for you as well. Remember that it is God who has the final say. In my house, I call it a parent’s ultimate veto power, on pretty much anything that goes on inside the house whether its movies, bedtime, chores, attitudes, rewards, punishments. Since we are all under God, whether we think so, believe so, or not. God has ultimate veto power, being God and all. In Psalm 67, David yet again cries out to God because he was under pressure from those who were pursuing his downfall and even death. He had done nothing to deserve their animosity, and yet they were out for blood, literally.
“HEAR MY voice, O God, in my complaint; guard and preserve my life from the terror of the enemy. Hide me from the secret counsel and conspiracy of the ungodly, from the scheming of evildoers, Who whet their tongues like a sword, who aim venomous words like arrows, Who shoot from ambush at the blameless man; suddenly do they shoot at him, without self-reproach or fear. They encourage themselves in an evil purpose, they talk of laying snares secretly; they say, Who will discover us ? They think out acts of injustice and say, We have accomplished a well-devised thing! For the inward thought of each one [is unsearchable] and his heart is deep. ” – Psalm 67:1-10
The story of Joseph which begins in Genesis 37, is chock full of situations that seem orchestrated to humble this man who though seriously talented and gifted had a bad case of conceit. He was not the way he needed to be in order to fulfill his God-given destiny. His character couldn’t support it. Pride, after all must go or we WILL fall.
Hebrews 11 talks about a number of people who lived during Biblical times who saw past the temporal now-ness of their circumstances and looked toward God, who they were certain had their future well in hand. Of course they saw their circumstances for what they were, frustrating, disheartening, heart-breaking, maddening, preposterous, and seemingly impossible. They faced things that we do; but God was bigger in their eyes than their situations.
What would Scooby Doo do? Most likely he would panic, then run and hide. What will you do? Will you see your everyday coincidences as threads in a grand tapestry? Will you see your life as a series of mistakes and retakes? Is it all just an accident, or is there a plan, even behind your pain?
“Consider it wholly joyful, my brethren, whenever you are enveloped in or encounter trials of any sort or fall into various temptations. Be assured and understand that the trial and proving of your faith bring out endurance and steadfastness and patience. But let endurance and steadfastness and patience have full play and do a thorough work, so that you may be [people] perfectly and fully developed [with no defects], lacking in nothing.” – James 1:2-4