Jeremiah 29:11 – "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (NIV)
Almost two decades ago, a young girl from Zimbabwe won a scholarship to study at a university in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. This was quite an accomplishment, and she was understandably very excited. However, three weeks before she was scheduled to leave her homeland, her mother died suddenly. This devastated Busi, since she had just lost her father two years earlier.
Nevertheless, even though she knew no one in Canada, she left her homeland and flew half-way around the world. She stopped here in Toronto on a Sunday, and since her stopover provided the time, she came to church and happened to sit next to my wife. After the service, my wife spoke to her and invited her to join us for lunch. We learned that she was a cousin of the wife of Dr. Paul Thistle. Paul had been a young person at our church, a good friend of our children, and we had had him and his Zimbabwean-born wife in our home many times. What a "coincidence"!
Suddenly, rather than being a frightened young girl, far from home, knowing nobody, Busi felt comfortable feeling that she knew somebody. In fact, she adopted us as her "grandparents", and until my wife's death in 2016, she relied heavily on her for guidance.
Skeptics would say that the circumstances that brought my wife and Busi together that Sunday morning were just a series of coincidences. But Busi said, "This morning, I was a frightened girl, not knowing what was going to happen to me, but God had a grandma ready for me that I didn't even know about. We certainly have an awesome God." And Grandma didn't even know that she was the chosen one! What a "co-incidence"!
We gave Busi a reverse-calling card so that she could telephone us regularly from Winnipeg, which she did at least weekly. The following August, on the anniversary of her mother's death, I answered the telephone to hear Busi crying. Eventually, I told her that I couldn't help her but that she should talk with Grandma. I heard Grandma say that she should settle down since she understood. Her own mother had died when she was eight years old, and she had cried herself to sleep every night for three months. The next thing I knew, they were both laughing. Grandma could empathize in a way that I could not. What a "coincidence" that God knew that Busi would need someone to empathize with her so many years after He had allowed my wife's mother to take sick and die suddenly. A coincidence, or part of God's provision?
You may, like me, struggle with the question of God's timing. We are bound by minutes, hours, and days, while God operates without time restraints. I strongly believe that God has a plan for each of us that He works out in His time, not ours.
You may be a skeptic who thinks that life is a series of coincidences. I prefer to follow Busi's statement that we have an awesome God. I believe what Paul writes:
Romans 8:28 – And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (KJV)
Prayer: Father, help us to reject the temptation to be skeptical. Enable us to have the faith to understand and believe that we have an awesome God. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.
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Listen while you read: "We Praise Thee O God" (Lyrics)