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Wednesday Word — August 5, 2020

August 5, 2020 | Jay T. Smith

Coincidence? Or Providence?

Several days ago I accepted the opportunity to meet with a person I had heard about, but never met. It was a meeting that I could have never imagined, and a dynamic conversation that fed my heart and imagination. I walked away from the meeting with a new friend, new ideas for ministry, and the feeling that this meeting was not a coincidence, but rather an act of providence.

Merriam-Webster defines “coincidence” as “a remarkable concurrence of events or circumstances without apparent causal connection.” It seems like when I experience a “coincidence” that it is “providential” (Merriam-Webster: “involving divine foresight or intervention”); in other words, a coincidence isn’t a coincidence. It is providence. God is at work when we need something to happen, but don’t know the first thing about where to start, who to make it work, and what exactly we need in order to make what we need to happen, happen. It’s God answering a prayer before we really know how to ask it.

Coincidence can be puzzling; providence can be inspiring. Coincidence is cool; providence is awesome! Coincidence can change how your day goes; providence can change the rest of your life.

Providence, interestingly, doesn’t change the fact that we have a choice. God does not bully those whom He loves. It is up to us to act upon those providential moments where God provides opportunities. How we receive this providential information also depends on the quality of relationship we have with God. I am more likely to experience an event as “providential” if I have an ongoing, dynamic, inspired relationship with God. This allows me to receive the “coincidental” as “providential.”

We must never forget that God is a Trinity of Father, Son, and Spirit. Or, stated in other ways: Origin, Word, and Power; or Creator, Redeemer, and Advocate. This multi-faceted fullness of God allows us to experience God as human beings. God has become like us (condescended), in order to allow us to be in fellowship with Him. The key is our willingness to listen to the voice of Jesus through the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. As we immerse ourselves in Scripture, cultivate our relationship with God in prayer, and listen carefully to the world around us, we will identify, experience, and act on the providential opportunities that are placed before us.

Jay T. Smith

President and Bridger Professor of Theology & Ethics

Dr. Jay Smith leads the Yellowstone Theological Institute as its president. Dr. Smith has served as minister of youth, music and as senior […]

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