God’s hand or mere coincidence?

Faith & Inspiration | Andrée Seu Peterson

As I was hunkering down for an hour’s wait for a friend at the Morgantown, Pa., toll booth station, and had packed my Bible, I phoned my husband to ask if he had time to read with me. In my home devotions I am at 2 Corinthians, but sitting in the passenger seat of my parked car I had opened at random to Jeremiah 17 and started reading, arbitrarily, at verse 5. Before phoning David, I had already spent about a half hour pondering verses 5 to 8.

David did have time for my little long-distance Scripture commune, and pulled out his Bible. He asked where I would like to read, and I said, “Well, I’m in Jeremiah 17, so maybe we could just start there.” He replied that that was amazing because he had just cracked open his Bible and it parted of its own accord to Jeremiah 17.

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My husband immediately took the 1-in-1,900 chance of us both landing on the same page (or whatever odds a bookie or statistician would come up with) as a divine maneuver to get us to read that precise passage of His Word.

My immediate inner response to David’s faith assumption went something like this: “Sometimes a coincidence is just a coincidence, and it’s best not to get too excited. I don’t wish to be taken in by error. Maybe there is something in the binding of the book that predisposes Bibles to fall open at that page, which is, after all, close to dead center of the book.”

I kept my speculation to myself, and David and I read until my friend arrived. The verses were interesting, though I would find interest in almost any passage, even those in Leviticus. What David got out of the reading I don’t know—and even the sum total and future ramifications of the influence of those particular words on my soul are not yet apparent—we know so little of the workings of God.

But there is something fascinating in the instant predisposition of one person to see God’s hand and another person to see randomness when presented with identical circumstances. C.S. Lewis created the Dwarfs of Narnia precisely to demonstrate the kind of person who is so averse to trusting God and being wrong that he becomes, in the end, incapable of doing so.

The result of the Dwarfs’ carefulness was that they had no joy, but at least they had no disappointment. Sitting in the dark, insensible to both good and bad, to feast or famine, they philosophized in The Last Battle: “Well, at any rate there’s no Humbug here. We haven’t let anyone take us in. The Dwarfs are for the Dwarfs.”

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