Providence or Serendipity?

When you reflect about troubling things that have happened in your past that ended up working out in your favor, do you look at it as serendipity or divine providence? Do you believe that it was chance that worked everything out in your favor, or do you believe that in God’s foresight He has worked everything out for your good?


I think this is an important question because it shows who one believe is in control over the occurrences that happen in life and in control over our ultimate fates. If you accept serendipity as the cause of your good fortune, that it was just by chance that things in your life have worked out in your favor, then you do not believe that God is in control.

To jump right to the elephant that could have snuck into the room, what happens, then, when bad things happen in our lives? Would I say that the cause of misfortunes isn’t luck or chance but instead a lack of God’s providence? Am I saying that God allows trouble to come upon people? Yes. I believe that God is in control of everything, and even though He doesn’t do evil, He does allow evil for the purpose of increasing His glory and creating more good. (That’ll be a whole ‘nother blog post!) Let’s think about His providence in today’s scripture.

Then Achish called David and said to him, “Surely, as the Lord lives, you have been upright, and your going out and your coming in with me in the army is good in my sight. For to this day I have not found evil in you since the day of your coming to me. Nevertheless the lords do not favor you. Therefore return now, and go in peace, that you may not displease the lords of the Philistines.” So David said to Achish, “But what have I done? And to this day what have you found in your servant as long as I have been with you, that I may not go and fight against the enemies of my lord the king?” 1 Sam. 9:6-8

In today’s reading, David finds himself kicked off the battlefield. As everyone is getting ready to go into battle, all of a sudden, he finds out he has haters hating on him in the camp. The princes of the Philistines begin to speak out against him and tell the king that they don’t want him there. They get ready to kick him off the battlefield, and David doesn’t seem to understand. He seems to see this as an affront to him. He doesn’t yet realize how God is working things out for his good.

Sometimes we will be put into situation and a series of circumstances that seem to be adverse to us, but in actuality, if we love the Lord and are following Him, God is working things in our favor. We just have to continue to trust in Him.

David ends up heading back home early the next morning, and He finds that it has been raided by the Amalekites. Everyone’s family and belongings were taken into captivity and plundered. Of course David feels this is more adversity coming his way:

Then David and the people who were with him lifted up their voices and wept, until they had no more power to weep. And David’s two wives, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess, and Abigail the widow of Nabal the Carmelite, had been taken captive. Now David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and his daughters. But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God. (1 Sam. 30:4-6)

David asks God if He should pursue the Amalekites, and God says yes. He ends up taking his army and recovering everything that was taken. What is amazing is that David is still able to put his trust in God even after being rejected by the army, finding all his possessions and loved ones stolen, and threats of being stoned. He strengthened himself in the Lord.

When you realize that God is omnipotent over every aspect of life, and when you have a personal relationship with Him of which He treats and sees you as His own beloved son, you can begin strengthening yourself in the Lord. When you trust in serendipity or luck or even chance, you are bound to be broken down when things don’t go in your favor and not have any solid ground to stand on.

And we know that ALL things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. Rom. 8:28

By the end of David’s story we can see how all things were working for his good when he was kicked off the battlefield: he was able to go and rescue all the possessions and loved ones–not only in Ziklag but in neighboring cities also (this was God’s providence preparing for his political reign as king); he was able to avoid having to fight against his own people; he was able to avoid having to witness or partake in the killing of Saul and his best friend; he wasn’t there to witness the injustice done to their bodies. In many aspects, what may have seen like a dis to David ended up being something very important for His life.

Let us spend more time trusting in God as we pray through our adversities. Knowing who He is and what He has done should allow us to always strengthen ourselves in Him. He is an ever-present help.

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