I am starting to think there is no such thing as a coincidence. (Were you thinking the same thing?) Whenever someone says, “Wow, what a coincidence,” I usually give a quick nod to the Lord knowing that whatever the person is describing must have been holy handiwork.
For your reading pleasure I will share a recap of three recent situations that surely must have been more than just coincidences.
The first example happened to a friend. This one had God’s fingerprints all over it. My friend endured an especially anguishing weekend because she had a very difficult decision to make. She was already happily employed but out of nowhere received a very tempting job offer.
What added to the pressure was an extremely tight deadline to to give the prospective employer an answer. It was practically an on-the-spot decision. She knew that if she said yes she would have to give her current employer only a few days’ notice that she’d be leaving. The stress was mounting.
Faced with this dicey decision, she turned to the right place for help: God. She prayed about the choice she would soon have to make and asked the Lord for some direction. I know that God speaks to all of us one way or another. But sometimes it is not always evident that God is telling us something.
In my friend’s case, it was rather obvious. At some point after she prayed about the situation her phone buzzed with a new text message. A former pastor of mine used to joke that if your cell phone rings in church, “It better be God calling.” Well, my friend was not in church when the text arrived, but I’m pretty sure God had something to do with it.
The text message was a verse from Jeremiah 29:11.
For I know well the plans I have in mind for you — oracle of the LORD — plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope.
It is my understanding that the text came from another friend who felt like she could use some inspiration but did not necessarily realize she was in the midst of making a hard decision. Coincidence? I don’t think so. The verse gave her comfort and helped her reach a decision with peace rather than stress. She took the job.
The next alleged coincidence involved me and my wife. I was at a ministry meeting that was not directly connected to my parish. While I was chatting with a priest, he gave me a copy of a new book he had written. He also does parish missions on the same topic as the book.
I returned home a couple of hours later and showed the book to my wife. She was surprised to see it. In the confessional just a few days prior, her confessor recommended that she attend a mission hosted by the same priest who wrote the book on the very same topic. Coincidence? Hardly.
The third instance happened on New Year’s Eve. All four of us in my household had the flu during Christmas week. So we were all still on the mend and looking forward to a calm and quiet New Year’s Eve at home.
At the dinner table, I said, “We should have picked up a bottle of wine. Oh well.” About an hour later, the doorbell rang. It was a neighbor dropping off a belated Christmas present for our family: a lovely gift basket filled with treats. And one of those treats was — you guessed it — a bottle of wine. Cheers!