Jan25WedJanuary 25, 2017
Several years ago, I was leading a fall retreat for a group of students when I lost my wedding ring. We were between events and had chosen to rake together a large pile of leaves. I was in the process of tossing a large fistful of leaves at several students when my ring quickly slid off my finger and disappeared amidst the scattered pile. I froze and quickly ask the students to do the same.
After explaining what had happened, one of our adult volunteers gathered the group together to pray and asked the Lord to help us find the ring. Within a matter of just a few minutes, a junior higher spied the precious metal and gave it back to me. I was so relieved.
Now the question is – did the Lord answer our prayer or was finding it so quickly merely a coincidence? By faith, I believe it was a God-appointed answer to prayer.
This kind of question is essential for us to understand how God works in our real circumstances of life. If God is really sovereign, truly in control, and has the power to intervene or interrupt the consequences which cascade upon us as careless sinners in a sinful world, then I believe that we have to say that there are no such thing as coincidences.
God does answer prayer by giving us what we ask - though certainly not always with the answer we desire. Sometimes God’s answer is “no” or “not-yet.” But that does not dismiss the reality that God does occasionally answer our petitions with a “yes.” Yet, do we have eyes to recognize it? Whether from our blind arrogance, self-reliance or lack of faith, it can be so easy to dismiss events like these as merely happenstance.
However, consider these real-life examples. A Christian brother who passes away without pain and with overwhelming peace is an answer to prayer. A Christian sister who has beat cancer three times is an answer to prayer – even if it returns again. A servant-minded husband, a healthy pregnancy, a timely financial gift, a warm smile, an unexpected phone call, or a spiritual conversation which appeared to come out of ‘thin air’ can all be God’s way of responding to our prayers with a “yes.”
As we take time over these next few months to focus on growing in prayer, I would encourage you to also ask the Lord to open your eyes to recognize when He does answer our prayers. When something happens which appears to be a coincidence, perhaps we can learn to respond like Jesus did when his disciples’ prayers were answered on the mission field – we can rejoice in the Holy Spirit and say, “I thank you, father, Lord of Heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding” and revealed them to me! (from Luke 10:21).
Let’s not discount the circumstances which appear to be coincidental or inevitable. God is at work in our world and as God’s people, we should be the first ones to give Him the glory. In fact, this is one of the reasons why we pray.