I used to be a big believer in coincidence, random things happening to people for no apparent reason. Connections made and lost, games won, keys found, friendships rekindled, car accidents avoided – or not,… you name it!
Pretty much anything could be looked at with wonder. I’d exclaim aloud, “That’s CRAZY! What are the chances of that!?!?”
Not that I’d actually pause long enough to calculate the chances, but I would often laugh (or cry) in wonder for a second or two over the chain of events that led up to whatever the coincidence was that struck me as particularly momentous at that time.
Not so much any more. Now I’ve made that pendulum swing pretty far in the opposite direction realizing that, in truth, very little if anything, is left to chance.
Sometimes, it’s nothing but our own stupidity that causes events to happen:
“If I hadn’t lost the keys again…”
“If I hadn’t been late…”
“If I hadn’t been speeding down the road…”
Other times it’s caused by someone else, and we have no control over the situation:
“If only he hadn’t cheated…”
“If only she hadn’t left…”
“If only child support was paid…”
But many times, I’ve come to discover there is a greater plan than the one we see in front of us, and this morning, in a few rare moments of quiet when my boys were sharing Thanksgiving with their father, I took my cup of coffee to my favorite corner of the couch and snuggled in with my Bible and journal.
Coffee with Jesus, as my kids call it, is a tradition that’s been harder to maintain with my new job but also one I vowed to take up again as we welcomed in the new liturgical year following the Feast of Christ the King. After weeks of not having time to read the Bible (can you witness me cringing as I write that???), I’d actually just finished Ephesians yesterday and eagerly awaited the start of Philippians.
I quickly read throughout the historical background that begins each new Book of my New American Bible and then saw the title of the first chapter:
That’s crazy! What are the chances…I read through the chapter twice before pausing to take notes in my journal. Since I don’t believe in coincidence anymore, I believe God wanted me to read that chapter today and to share some of what I found there.
- I noticed Saint Paul gives thanks for those of us who Love the gospel and are willing to spread it. He speaks to us today as much as he did to followers of Christ thousands of years ago. Even his imprisonment cannot overwhelm the joy he feels knowing that there are others proclaiming the Gospel. Personally, I needed to hear this and thanked God for sending me these words..
- Then, I found a prayer I can use for x and his girlfriend and any others whom I have difficulty praying for,
And this is my prayer: that your love may increase ever more and more in knowledge and every kind of perception, to discern what is of value, so that you may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.
- And I found this
I want you to know, brothers, that my situation has turned out rather to advance the gospel, so that my imprisonment has become well known in Christ throughout the whole praetorium and to all the rest, and so that the majority of the brothers, having taken encouragement in the Lord from my imprisonment, dare more than ever to proclaim the word fearlessly.
Indeed I shall continue to rejoice, for I know that this will result in deliverance for me through your prayers and support from the Spirit of Jesus Christ. My eager expectation and hope is that I shall not be put to shame in any way, but that with all boldness, now as always, Christ will be magnified in my body,…
Saint Paul knew, even while imprisoned unjustly and repeatedly, that his situation, in fact his very imprisonment, had done incredible things to spread the Gospel, to alert others to the Good of the Lord. Perhaps his imprisonment was more powerful than his ability to travel freely to preach.
And perhaps that is true of all of us in our situations.
Perhaps those struggling financially can discover Good in those struggles. Perhaps the bachelor who tries so hard to cover his loneliness can teach others to Love in ways a married man never could, and perhaps a single mom can help others struggling with things such as sudden abandonment, betrayal, crisis pregnancy and those struggling with faith or thinking of leaving the Catholic church because of divorce in ways she never could have as a happily married woman.
Perhaps the Lord sees in us that which we cannot see in ourselves.
Perhaps with the Lord, even those things which keep us imprisoned here on earth are incredibly freeing to others here and to ourselves in the next life.
Look at the end of Thanksgiving again.
Perhaps, we need to dare more than ever, be fearless, eager expectation, Hope, not put to shame in any way, boldness, Christ magnifying.
Perhaps, we need to give Thanks for all our situations. Perhaps, we need to have an even greater Servant’s Heart, caring less about ourselves and more about serving others in whatever role the Lord puts us in.
I know I would never go back to the life I had before, when I was complacent in my faith, when I thought I was “good enough.” I do give thanks for where we are now compared to where we were last year and five years ago, but also compared to where we were 10 years ago, when I thought married life was on the upswing and I was the luckiest woman alive.
That was the old me, the coincidence me. Now, I am not a big believer in coincidences, but I am a big believer in Thanksgiving!
Thank you Lord for our situation.
By thy will be done…
Do you honestly believe God doesn’t give you anything you can’t handle (with Him) or do you doubt and then question His presence in your stumbling? Can you find ways to use your situation to help another? to Advance the Gospel? to bring people to the Lord?
Are you able to give thanks in all situations?