“there is no such thing as mere coincidence.”

In the end, one must finally come to see that if there is a God in heaven, there is no such thing as mere coincidence, not even in the smallest affairs of life: “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord” (Proverbs 16:33). Not one sparrow “will fall to the ground without your Father’s will” (Matthew 10:29, RSV).

– John Piper (Desiring God, p.37).

I’m neither a scholar nor a theologian and I’m still trying to make sense of the above-mentioned. However, the more I think about it, the more illogical it is not. I believe that in light of God fulfilling His own intended will and purposes, “there is no such thing as mere coincidence”, really. I am of the notion that nothing will stop God from achieving what He had planned, from the beginning to the end; not even sin or the evil acts of men will prevent or stop it. I am of the opinion that God is truly in control of His own sovereignty. For if “coincidence” really did exist, then it is an audacious conclusion that there is something (far) greater than God (oh, the thought!) who is able to control what God is doing and will do. That, my friend, is sacrilege.

These are the fresh thoughts in my head as I re-read JP’s Desiring God for the third time; If there was any book that one should read after the Bible, this book would receive my hearty endorsement a hundred times over. But I digress.

Interestingly enough (at the time of posting it on my FB status), MW commented, “I was just thinking about it Joey, if there’s such a thing as ‘coincidence’ or if it is just God’s hand working in His perfect timing”. And coincidentally, LK’s first post on his blog after a five-month hiatus, was about how God is in control. He wrote, “Today God reminded me that He is sovereign and that His priority is not what He can do through me, yet, but what He is doing in me”.

I think this is a topic worth discoursing over and hence I’m inviting you to share your opinions by leaving a comment. I’m calling out to theologians, pseudo-theologians, atheists, scholars, cynics, zealous Christians, back-sliding believers, Muslims, Taoists, politicians, mothers, youths, and of course, you – the invisible reader of my humble blog. In other words, all are welcome to offer their two-cents’ worth.

What is coincidence? How does it tie in with the will of God? What is the will of God? Is there evil and blemish in the good and perfect will of God? What does it even have to do with you? I’m not attempting to prove any point or convince anyone of any opinion. I sincerely just want to hear what you have to say, so please, share your thoughts on this!

About Joey Asher Tan

Apart from Jesus, I can do nothing; I am absolutely nothing without Christ.

Posted on July 15, 2010, in Affirming Faithfulness, Attempted Provocation, Extraordinary Mundane, Previews & Reviews, Quote & Unquote, Retrospective Reflections, Spontaneous Conversations, Theocentric Orientation and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. There are times where there are just simply too many possible obstacles to cross and too many coincidences that needed to happen in order to achieve a particular end result. In many instances, the odds can be too great for the result to be merely coincidence. When all those combination of odds keep happening one after another, the result only point to the certainty of the existence of a higher power; that which directs history, that which most people call God.

    Wells, besides all these mental gymnastics, there is one thing I know for certain — the more I pray, the more coincidences seem to happen.

  2. This is how i would describe it. Coincidence is the occurance of 2 or more things by which we cannot explain, resulting in a wonderful or distasterous outcome on the affected party. In my view, it is not so mysterious and i would put it across with the help of object representation. If every man is viewed as the start of a root and every decision an extension of that root, surrounded by the innumerable other ‘shoots’ so to speak, the roots extension will inconsequencially meet. The choice and decision of man meeting each other merely result in what we call coincidence. Now u might think i am an atheist as only the choice of man truely counts. I merely addressed the date between 2 or more consequences. From a macro-view, each man branches out from a root – our biological father. However our fathers do not dictate as to who is to be that child or the whole DNA of an individual – personality, character, perks and talent.
    Even for us to come within such proximity in our lives, it is not the choice or decision of man. And for every event to nicely interplay with one another at a discret time, display intricate planning. Without which the same result will never occur as no 2 man are distinctly the same. Science, math, language and faith would never also have taken such leaps if these ‘minds’ were placed in another place another education, another human social system at another time- misplaced

    If it takes so many talented HR managers to find and allocate the most suitable human resource to each position in a mega global firm, surely it takes a GOD to manage and fit in each person to their specific time and place to advance his ‘buisness-which arguably does not exclude science’ in this world.

  3. Wondering Wanderer

    I’ve pondered on this topic some time ago and I’ve wondered if God truly directs everything — emphasis on ‘everything.’ He permits situations to occur, yes, but does he necessarily mandate that everything happens in a particular way and that all coincidences are, not really coincidences since Piper argues that ‘there is no such thing as mere coincidence.’ I think we might need more context to ascertain if Piper meant it in this sense.

    In any case, I’m bemused about attributing all coincidences to God’s hand — I’m not an authority on this but, in my opinion, there needs to be a distinction between ‘actual’ coincidences (without divine direction) and divinely timed occurrences.

    Here’s why:

    First, to argue that all coincidences are divinely engineered is to say that ALL choices (random or not) that human beings make are really directed by God. This is so since the action of decision-making and the subsequent intersection of those decisions that have been made by all humans, in turn gives rise to, what is known as ‘coincidence.’ When Piper et al. have said that ‘there can be no mere coincidence,’ does it means that God directed all human beings’ actions from the very start since veering off course would produce coincidental outcomes (not divinely sanctioned). And if God indeed dictates all our actions, then what should we make out of the understanding that God has a ‘permissible will,’ whereby we choose and act on our own accord (and we might not be in his perfect will) since if we are permitted to make personal choices (like believing in the salvation of our Lord Jesus Christ), there is bound to be a coincidental outcome that God did not actively engineer. Hence, I’m more inclined to believe that while God allows things to happen, it does not necessarily mean He engineers everything (ALL coincidences). — The interpretation of this whole paragraph varies according to, sadly, church denomination since some denominations believe that God has chosen his elect, while others believe that man has choice.

    I was thinking of ranting further but I think that’s enough for now. =)

    *BTW, all these thoughts are mine and are by no means accurate.

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