I couldn’t believe the coincidence. Because the coronavirus has closed churches—not to mention the Women of the ELCA office—I was preparing to create a video version Gather’s March Bible study for Facebook.
The March study was written in the fall of 2019, long before any of us saw the coronavirus crisis coming. Yet the Scripture we’re studying fit so perfectly to the situation in which we’ve found ourselves:
And since the famine had spread over all the land, Joseph opened all the storehouses, and sold to the Egyptians, for the famine was severe in the land of Egypt. Moreover, all the world came to Joseph in Egypt to buy grain because the famine became severe throughout the world (Genesis 31:47-57).
Joseph had prepared to help the world cope with a catastrophe.
Coincidence or work of the Holy Spirit
Some would call this surprising turn of events a coincidence: a Bible study written last year addressing our current situation. Others would call it the work of the Holy Spirit.
Here’s another coincidence (or work of the Holy Spirit) that happened recently: My mother’s friend—a certified nursing assistant who works for a school in Flint, Michigan—had been laid off of her job. Then my coworker announced she was struggling to find someone to care for ailing her mother—in Flint, Michigan.
Do things always work out like that? Have you noticed more of these moments in your life lately?
I recently read this article about the ways the crisis we face right now might reshape the world. The contributors posited that perhaps this crisis would finally break through our political and cultural polarization. When this is over, will we be less individualistic?
Notice the magical movements
If anything about my life changes because of this crisis, I hope it’s that I continue to notice the coincidences, those magical movements of the Holy Spirit.
Before this crisis, I didn’t have a lot of time to notice. But now, with more time on my hands—and a need to find a few moments of peace each day–I finally see things around me I should have seen all along. There’s a bird nest in the neighbor’s maple tree. How long has it been there? Did I even know the neighbor had a maple tree?
This morning my daughter and I stood on the porch and cheered as the sanitation workers tossed our recycling into the truck, thanking them for their work. They laughed and waved.
Of course, I know that finding this little silver lining in a worldwide health crisis may sound trite. In a few months, or weeks, or days, “noticing” might be the least of my worries if someone I love falls ill. Or if I do.
But I’m praying that I’ll continue to notice these little things. I also pray that you and I will still be here next week, next month, next year, and that we’ll look back and find the good in all that has happened.
What are you hoping for as the days turn to weeks of waiting? Can you find meaning in coincidence?
Sarah Carson is managing editor of Gather magazine and a poet.