By Bob Russell
Abraham’s servant was searching for a wife for Isaac. He sat down by a well to pray and it just so happened that a beautiful young woman named Rebekah arrived with a water jar on her shoulder.
Joseph’s brothers threw him into a pit and were going to leave him there to die. But it just so happened that some Ishmaelite traders came by at that moment and Joseph was dragged out of the pit and sold as a slave.
Moses’ mother placed her 3-month-old infant in a waterproof basket in the cattails of the Nile River. But it just so happened that Pharaoh’s daughter came to that very place to bathe, spotted the child, and adopted him.
It just so happened that Ruth was gleaning in a field owned by Boaz. It just so happened that Samson was bound to the two load-supporting pillars of the pagan temple. It just so happened that King Xerxes couldn’t sleep and asked a servant to read from the history of Persia.
When Mary was about to give birth to the baby Jesus, it just so happened that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that everyone had to go to their hometown to register for a special tax. So Mary and Joseph traveled to Bethlehem where it was prophesied the Messiah was to be born.
The Small Is Big
We’ve often heard, “Big doors turn on little hinges.” Most of us can point to what we thought at the time was an inconsequential meeting that later completely altered our lives. We look back and realize God must have orchestrated the small encounter because it made such a huge difference.
When I was a college freshman, it just so happened that I attended a conference and noticed a pretty coed singing in a girl’s trio. It just so happened afterward that I bumped into that very girl in the hallway and dared to strike up a conversation. Now, nearly 50 years later, it just so happens we’re still married.
What about for you? How often has some “coincidence” led to a fork in the road of your career or spiritual life? G. K. Chesterton once said that what we call coincidences are “spiritual puns.” A pun is a word with a double meaning, and a coincidence can be an event that has two meanings. God supplies the second one. He is always working toward his divine purposes—purposes no one but he sees in the limited view of the moment.
The Random Is Purposeful
This is not to say that God dictates every detail of our lives each and every second of the day. But don’t you wonder how many incidents we write off as random happenstance, when God is fulfilling his intended will? Many of them we’ll never recognize or hear about, but it doesn’t mean God isn’t working upstream to bring hope from despair and new life from death.
He promises in Romans 8:28, 29:
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.
What is God quietly doing in your life right now? Even if you’re currently struggling—especially if
you’re currently struggling—expect a few “God-incidences” just in the nick of time. And when they arrive, give God your gratitude and glory. As the song says, “When you can’t trace his hand, trust his heart” (“Trust His Heart” by Babbi Mason).
Bob Russell is the retired senior minister of Southeast Christian Church, Louisville, Kentucky. Copyright 2013 by Bob Russell. Permission to
copy this column may be obtained by writing Debbie Carper, Southeast Christian Church, 920 Blankenbaker Pkwy, Louisville, KY 40243.