Coincidence or Synchronicity

“Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous.”

Albert Einstein

Do you believe in coincidence? How about synchronicity? I didn’t even know what synchronicity meant until it was discussed in a murder mystery I watched a while back. Curious about the term, I decided to look it up.

According to the dictionary, synchronicity is “the simultaneous occurrence of events, which appear significantly related but have no discernible causal connection.” Jungian theory calls it “an essentially mysterious connection between the personal psyche and the natural world” [Carl G. Jung (1960), Synchronicity: An Acausal Connecting Principle, Princeton University Press, 2012, p. 44.].

So, what is the difference between coincidence and synchronicity? Both mean “striking occurrences of two or more events at one time,” but coincidence is seen as only chance or luck while synchronicity implies the presence of a deeper intelligence at work.  I tend to agree Albert Einstein’s idea that it is God at work.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.

Jeremiah 29:11

When I was about to graduate with my master’s degree, I applied to serve as a short-term missionary through the International Service Corp. What followed had to be more than just coincidence.

When I went for the interview, I was to choose my top three positions for service. I had my mind set on Kenya, and I really wasn’t interested in any of the other options. My roommate (who was originally from Korea) insisted that I must go to Korea. I shrugged it off, but she kept insisting until I put it down as my second choice. I randomly wrote down a third choice and returned home to wait for a decision.

A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps.

Proverbs 16:9

My letter of acceptance was a bit confusing to say the least. It listed both Kenya and Korea in the job offer, so I called to get clarification. They surprised me by saying that they remembered my application in particular because there was a bit of a discussion regarding where I should go, but the final word was Korea.

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

Proverbs 3:5-6

After a lot of prayer, I accepted the offer, and it was a wonderful experience that I wouldn’t trade for the world. Not long after I reached Korea, there was unrest in one of Kenya’s neighboring countries and the missionaries there were forced to leave. A few of them ended up in Kenya and were able to take the position I had applied for in the first place.

I don’t think it was coincidence that I ended up with a roommate from Korea, or that she was so insistent on my going there. God knew where I needed to be and where other missionaries would need to be.

Recently, I have been praying for guidance and clarity about my writing as a profession and not just hobby. I attended an online conference, and the first speaker seemed to be speaking directly to me. I purchased her book on praying over your writing, and in it she mentioned a book that I purchased in 2012 at another conference. At the same time, I heard about another book on social media and marketing as well as some classes on how to use certain software in social media. I don’t think it was a coincidence.

God put me in the right place at the right time to hear the same themes over and over again from a variety of sources. It was the answer to my prayer complete with resources and training. Not only that, but when I wavered on whether to buy one of the books or pay for a very reasonable course fee, I was given a credit for almost the entire amount of the expense for both.

I believe in synchronicity because there is a deeper intelligence involved: The Holy Spirit. He is at work and moving around us if we will only take a moment to see it. I finished both books from that conference, ordered the other book and signed up for the courses. So, is it coincidence or synchronicity? Either way I think God is trying to speak to us. Are you listening?                                                  

Random Patterns

Part of the fun of a mystery knit along or even a mystery novel is watching seemingly random facts fuse together to become a completed pattern. It’s fun seeing the parts come together and trying to guess what it will become. I especially like the pictures in puzzle magazines that look like a jigsaw puzzle with random pieces marked with dots. For those pieces, you color them in with ink and eventually a picture emerges.

What is not fun is when random events happen in your life and you cannot see the pattern. Where is God in the midst of aggravations, illnesses, losses and frustrations? Why is this happening? What purpose could their possibly be?

When I play Slingo, an electronic form of Bingo, I try to have a plan of attack to reach the goal of that particular board. I follow a pattern. One level I had played over and over again with no success, and I was getting frustrated. The last time I played it there was no way to follow a pattern the way the game was going, and I had already come to the conclusion that I was not going to win this round either. However, out of the seemingly random moves, I completed the round. It was all by chance…or was it?

In life God sometimes uses a series of seemingly random events to get us to a particular place at a particular time in order to be of use to Him. The Bible says, “Who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14). We must trust that God has a plan for these moments and pray to be of use in these moments. Maybe the problems you are struggling with were meant to bring you to “such a time as this”. What seems random to us is just another piece of the puzzle to God…a piece He is putting into place so that the bigger picture can be revealed.