Coincidence, fate or the hand of God?

Coincidence, fate or the hand of God?

My mom’s name is Shirley…a fairly unique name as far as women’s names go. Out of all the girls with different names, I just happened to marry a girl with the same unique name…Shirley. Over the years I’ve started calling Shirley (my wife) “Lainey,” which is another fairly unique name; a take off of her middle name Elaine. Riley my oldest son has married a beautiful young lady from Tulsa. Her name? Laney.


I have a friend on Facebook whom I’ve never met personally but we’ve developed a great online friendship. He’s from Oregon, his name is John. I’ve got another friend on Facebook I’ve only met personally once but we’ve spoken on the phone a time or two. She lives in New York and her name is Joan. A while back I was reading Joan’s Facebook feed and found a comment from someone I didnt’ expect…John!


In college I had a university parking sticker on my car. The number on the sticker was 1605. And that number just happened to be my girlfriend’s (now my wife’s) home address.


I love these. The Chinese actually have a saying; “If there’s no coincidence, there’s no story.” And the fact is, coincidences have always made great stories.

But what do you think about coincidences? Do they just happen or is there some bigger purpose or power directing and these things that just seem to happen coincidentally. The dictionary defines a coincidence as a striking occurrance of two or more events at the same time apparently by mere chance.

Does God intervene in our lives this way or do things “just happen?” Is there such a thing as “mere chance?”

Jesus knew the power of coincidence and it’s staying power as a story. Remember the time when the temple tax had to be paid? Jesus, who probably didn’t carry around a lot of cash, told Peter to go out and catch a fish on a line. When Peter caught the fish he found a coin in it’s mouth…and paid the tax with that coin. Out of all the fish in the sea…Peter catches the one with a coin in it’s mouth.

I am one of those guys who happen to believe that there are very few coincidences in life. I think we’ll be very surprised when we get to Heaven and learn how much our Creator continues to control, arrange and orchestrate; even the stuff that seems to be so meaningless.

I believe it’s part of His nature. Part of His charm. (I can just imagine the wink in His eye) God knows the power of a story. He loves to do what no one would ever expect. So for me I believe that God directed me to a girl with the same name as my mom. He thought it’d be cool if out of all the four number combinations available, the number on my parking sticker would be the same as her home address. And He continues to amaze and delight by having my son find a girl to marry with the same name as his mom.

But that’s what I believe. What about you? Do you believe in coincidence? What’s your favorite story about a coincidence in your life?

Remember…if there’s no coincidence (or hand of God!) there’s no story.

Thanks to This American Life and their show on Coincidences for the inspiration for this post.

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  • Good read Mike!! Susie and I always look at each other when we say or hear smeone mention coincidence, we smile and say ‘God’incidence! Yes indeed, the hand of Almighty God is on every facet of our life. Conicidence for us has been replaced by ‘God’incidence.

  • Coincidence: a divinely italicized moment strategically placed within the elipses of our, otherwise, omitted God stories.

  • Danny, love it. Won’t it be cool to finally learn about all those times when God arranged things to happen just so? I believe the only way to explain some of these things is to know there is a bigger Hand out there controlling things.

  • My phone extension in college was the same as my wife’s home address. It was the only address she had until she went to college. Its our address now!
    Proverbs 16:33 “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.”
    In other words: ” We might roll the dice but God has already determined the outcome!

  • Love this Michael. I believe they are even more evident if we are paying attention. I wonder how many we miss every day. And that cool common coincidence of Joan, you and I? As I meet more and more people this kinda of coincidences becomes pretty common. They are still remarkable and believe are signs of both God’s delight in relationship.
    Cheers, John

  • John and I met at an advance thrown by friend Len. I also met Bruce Barnard at one of Len’s advances…in West Virginia even though we lived in the same town in New York. You and I met through Bruce. Hey, this is fun…

  • Dave’s birthday is December 27th and mine is June 27th. He grew up celebrating his half birthday (my birthday) because there was more to do with his friends in the summer. After we got married we were flipping through my baby book and my first little baby haircut was on the day he was born.:)

  • Hi Michael

    I am from Tamil Nadu, India and I studied in Karunya University, a college founded by a famous evangelist of India, Dr. DGS Dinakaran. Dr. Dinakaran was involved in a car crash during the building of the college and was severely injured. He lost his young daughter Evangeline in the accident. Dr. Dinakaran would say that God allowed it so that he would understand what God the Father went through at the time of crucifixon. What is interesting is later on Dr. Dinakaran got a daughter in law by name Angeline when his only son Paul got married. Dr. Dinakaran would say that God had replaced Evangeline with Angeline to make good the loss. At that time I was young and for me this was just coincidence.

    I got into business with some friends after a few years of graduation and my partner’s name was Sakthi, a non-christian. He was like a brother to me. After a long period of trials and crisis I found myself asking God to lead me and all of a sudden I found myself taking over the business and leaving my partners. Interestingly, my wife’s sister got married and my “co brother” who calls me as brother is named Sathy and God actually used me to get them together even though I did not know Sathy before.

    But what got me to your website was an accidental discovery I made now while researching Christianity on the internet. I believe I am the first to post this coincidence as I could not google anything related to it. That coincidence is this. Bartholomew (Nathaniel) and Thomas are the disciples of Jesus who came to India to preach the Gospel. According to Fox’s Book of Martyrs Bartholomew translated the Gospel of Mathew from Hebrew to “Indian”. It is very likely that this “Indian” is Tamil as southern India was the place which had a lot of maritime trade with the Romans during these times. Also since Jesus instructed his disciple to travel in twos, it is believed that Thomas and Bartholomew may have come together for spreading the Gospel. According to the historian Eusebius, Thomas was murdered in India (tradition holds this place to be St. Thomas Mount in Chennai, Tamil Nadu) while Bartholomew left India. This gospel was found about 150 years later by another missionary, Pantaneus and has been recorded by him. What happened to this Gospel translation by Bartholomew is not known. But what is interesting is that more than 1500 years later, God sent a missionary also named Bartholomew – Bartholomew Ziegenbalg to southern India. Ziegenbalg is now credited with having translated the first Bible in India, printed the first book in India, which again is the Bible, all in the language, Tamil.

    I am sure God loves to delight us with coincidences, especially names.

    “Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous” – Albert Einstein


  • Food for Logical Thought:
    The method we use to evaluate coincidence is probability.

    The jump: When we perceive a coincidence to be a little too unlikely, we then make “the jump” and say it must be supernatural.

    The mistake: We perceive coincidence almost as though it shouldn’t or couldn’t happen. The odds dictate that coincidental things must happen-it is only a matter of time.

    The word “coincidence” is a description of human perception.

  • Mike – My father, my grandfather, my wife’s father and my wife’s grandfather are all named “Glenn.” My first child, (Lynzee, now 6) was born on my birthday. And, on the evening of what ended up being Tara and my first date (sort of), it all happened because we both called the same mutual friend within 5 minutes of each other and asked what “the group” was doing… but within our phrasing of the question, we both specified the other by name, so the friend put one-and-one together (see what I did there?) and gave Tara my phone number (since she called second). One year later, to the day, we got engaged.

  • A few days ago (Jan 2017) I heard the story about coincidences on This American Life. It’s been on my mind – so today I googled “God’s Coincidences” and of all the results I picked this one to open up and read. At the end of your story I see that it was inspired by This American Life – from 2013! I believe that God orchestrates the tiniest details of our lives and He gives us experiences so that we recognize the hand of God in everything.

  • not only have there been coincidences,but they increased in frequency and the odds of unlikeliness increased exponentially, to the point where there was several statistically improbable things happen in succession,within an hour or so.the point is, that you begin to realize that what you previously knew as possible, needs reassessment,…….telling other believers is good, but nonbelievers will never see it,nothing can be gained by telling,rather listening with a devoted heart mind and soul is all thats necessary,god bless you


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