How do we know if the things we consider coincidence are really signs from God? Are we actually looking for signs or do we chalk things up to blind luck?
Coincidence or Providence
The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord. (Proverbs 16:33 KJV)
One day Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, “Let me go out into the harvest fields to pick up the stalks of grain left behind by anyone who is kind enough to let me do it.”
Naomi replied, “All right, my daughter, go ahead.” So Ruth went out to gather grain behind the harvesters. And as it happened, she found herself working in a field that belonged to Boaz, the relative of her father- in- law, Elimelech.
(Ruth 2:2-3 NLTse)
We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps. (Proverbs 16:9 NLTse)
Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan. (Ephesians 1:11 NLTse)
But Joseph replied, “Don’t be afraid of me. Am I God, that I can punish you? You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people. No, don’t be afraid. I will continue to take care of you and your children.” So he reassured them by speaking kindly to them
(Genesis 50:19-21 NLTse)
The Ark of the Lord remained in Philistine territory seven months in all. Then the Philistines called in their priests and diviners and asked them, “What should we do about the Ark of the Lord? Tell us how to return it to its own country.”
“Send the Ark of the God of Israel back with a gift,” they were told. “Send a guilt offering so the plague will stop. Then, if you are healed, you will know it was his hand that caused the plague.”
“What sort of guilt offering should we send?” they asked.
And they were told, “Since the plague has struck both you and your five rulers, make five gold tumors and five gold rats, just like those that have ravaged your land. Make these things to show honor to the God of Israel. Perhaps then he will stop afflicting you, your gods, and your land. Don’t be stubborn and rebellious as Pharaoh and the Egyptians were. By the time God was finished with them, they were eager to let Israel go.
“Now build a new cart, and find two cows that have just given birth to calves. Make sure the cows have never been yoked to a cart. Hitch the cows to the cart, but shut their calves away from them in a pen. Put the Ark of the Lord on the cart, and beside it place a chest containing the gold rats and gold tumors you are sending as a guilt offering. Then let the cows go wherever they want. If they cross the border of our land and go to Beth- shemesh, we will know it was the L ord who brought this great disaster upon us. If they don’t, we will know it was not his hand that caused the plague. It came simply by chance.”
So these instructions were carried out. Two cows were hitched to the cart, and their newborn calves were shut up in a pen. Then the Ark of the L ord and the chest containing the gold rats and gold tumors were placed on the cart. And sure enough, without veering off in other directions, the cows went straight along the road toward Beth- shemesh, lowing as they went. The Philistine rulers followed them as far as the border of Beth
(1 Samuel 6:1-12 NLTse)
God uses the ordinary and the commonplace (even cows) to accomplish extraordinary feats against insurmountable odds.
“When you first consider your life, it looks like nothing but a bunch of chicken tracks in the mud of a barnyard, going this way and that. But through the eyes of faith, we begin to discern pattern, meaning, direction. Providence.” – Augustine
The Lord will work out his plans for my life—for your faithful love, O Lord, endures forever. Don’t abandon me, for you made me. (Psalms 138:8 NLTse)