It Just So Happens…

Serendipity: The occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way; an unplanned fortunate discovery.
“I’m so glad I just happened to run into you at the store! I was having a terrible day and you gave me exactly the encouragement I needed. Or did I just happen to run into you?
“That was a horrific accident; if I would have left your house when I was planning to leave, I would have driven into that intersection right at the time of the accident, but I just happened to miss it.” Or did I just happen to miss it?
“30 years ago, I was visiting my mom in the hospital and just happened to meet a young lady she befriended who, over the course of various events, would become my wife two years later.” Or did I just happen to meet that young lady?
In Luke chapter 10, a lawyer asks Jesus a question that He answers with the parable of the Good Samaritan. The lawyer’s question was, “Who is my neighbor?” As part of the parable, Jesus shares the following: 31 “A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side” (Luke 10:31). In that verse, the word happened (also translated chance or coincidence), comes from the Greek word synkyrian, which is a combination of two words: sun and kurios. Sun means “together with,” and kurios means “supreme in authority.” So biblically, the word happened (or chance or coincidence) can be understood as, “what occurs together by God’s providential arrangement of circumstances.”
Did I just happen to run into an old friend? Did I just happen to miss that horrible accident? Did I just happen to meet my future wife because she knew my mom in the hospital? What appears to be random chance could actually point to the oversight of God, who tells us, “Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows” (Luke 12:7). What I used to think of as serendipity could very well be the handiwork of God, who makes it clear that He’s in charge of everything:
I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. 10 I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.’ 11 From the east I summon a bird of prey; from a far-off land, a man to fulfill my purpose. What I have said, that I will bring about; what I have planned, that I will do. (Isaiah 46:9-11)
When I experience unexpected events or I run into someone completely by surprise, my first reaction might be, “What a coincidence.” But just because I am surprised does not mean that God is. In fact, He promised that, “in all things [He] works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). In ways known only to God, He takes those things that “just happened”—those chance meetings and coincidences, those surprise circumstances, and even my mistakes and unplanned events—and brings them together to fulfill His purposes.
Troy Burns