Sunday, February 3, 2013

Take5 with Kathy - "Coincidence or divine arrangement..."

"an old man lost his horse"
There’s an old Chinese idiom which says, “an old man lost his horse”. To a non-Chinese-speaking person this holds no significance and makes no sense at all so I asked my husband, who is Chinese, to explain. As Chinese is a very pictorial language, when young children begin learning it, they must also learn the history behind each idiom. Then when they use the phrase in a sentence they, as well as the listener, immediately understand the context and meaning.  The story behind this idiom goes like this…

“An old man lived near the Great Wall of China. One day his horse ran away. His friends tried to comfort him but the man replied, “Who says this may not be a blessing?”
Sometime later, the horse returned accompanied by several more horses. The friends rejoiced with the man but this time he replied, “Who says this won’t turn out to be misfortune?”

The man’s son, who loved the new horses, rode one of them each morning. As they were still rather wild, one day he fell off and became crippled from his injuries. Again the friends tried to console the old man who replied, “Who knows, this may be a blessing in disguise.”

A year later, war broke out against invaders and many young men were drafted into the army. Almost nine out of ten were killed. Since the old man’s son was crippled, he was exempt from the draft and both survived.

Therefore, a blessing may turn out to be a misfortune and the reverse may also be true.”

Earlier this week I was discussing with the ladies in my Bible study group about coincidences. Are the seemingly random occurrences that appear to be connected mere chance, fate, destiny, or inevitabilities? Or, is there another explanation that confounds statistical improbabilities?

King Solomon pondered such things saying, “The wind blows to the south and turns to the north; round and round it goes, ever returning on its course. All streams flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full. To the place the streams come from, there they return again…If clouds are full of water, they pour rain upon the earth; whether a tree falls to the south or to the north, in the place where it falls, there will it lie.” (Ecclesiastes 1:5-7; 11:3)

As a Christian, I believe all things happen for a purpose and nothing occurs by chance. My faith in the Sovereign Lord of the universe allows me to agree with the psalmist, “I know that the Lord is great, that our Lord is greater than all gods. The Lord does whatever pleases Him, in the heavens and on the earth, in the seas and all their depths.” (Psalm 135:5-6)

at the dam in our neighborhood
The prophet Daniel proclaimed, “He changes times and seasons; He sets up kings and deposes them. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning…He does as He pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back His hand or say to Him, ‘What have you done?’” (Daniel 2:21; 4:35)

Proverbs 16:4 declares, “The Lord works out everything for His own ends…”

My faith also allows me to believe that God is a loving God, full of mercy and compassion (James 5:11; I John 4:16) especially for those who trust in His name. I am confident that “in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

So, as in the Chinese story, a good thing may not always turn out in the way we envisioned and a bad thing may actually turn out to be a blessing. The important thing is to maintain a balanced perspective on all things that happen in my life.

As I submit daily to the leading of the Holy Spirit in my life often His ways contradict what I think or feel. Sometimes it doesn’t even seem logical or make sense. However, I’ve discovered that when I am faithful in studying His Word, communicating with Him through prayer, and listening for Him to reveal His will to me I experience a deep peace in leaving the circumstances and apparent “coincidences” in His hands. I know He is totally capable of divinely arranging every detail of my life to accomplish the purposes He has for me.

Instead of mere coincidence, I prefer to perceive it as everything coinciding with the will of God. As the apostle Paul says, “In Him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of Him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will.” (Ephesians 1:11)

Until next Sunday,


*All Scripture from the NIV

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