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?                                                  

Without Conflict There is No Story

At the Southern Christian Writer’s Conference this weekend, I attended a seminar by Melanie Dickerson on “How to Create Conflict in Fiction.” She was discussing how without conflict there is no story worth reading. We don’t read books or watch movies where only good things happen and everyone is happy. It’s like the movie Pleasantville or Snow Globe; the ideal life gets boring very quickly. The same can be said spiritually.

We complain to God when we encounter troubles and trials or even mere inconveniences, but often those inconveniences lead to some of the most satisfying spiritual growth moments of our journey. Just like in novels, we need conflict in order to grow. In a Hailey Dean movie just last night, the main character, a therapist, is talking about her own issue with a colleague. The colleague suggests she tell a story about her fiancé who was murdered years previously, something she avoids at all costs. Hailey replies that she is uncomfortable with that. Her colleague replied basically that those are the things that will give us the most growth.

In order to grow, we have to step out of our comfort zones and confront something that we are uncomfortable with, such as something God has told us to do or a sin we are not willing to deal with or even a relationship issue. When we follow God’s leading into the uncomfortable, God does His greatest work in us and through us because we are relying on Him instead of ourselves. Like Peter, step out of the boat and onto the water, even in the midst of a rolling sea, and you will find something far better than you ever imagined. Without conflict, there is no story, but with it life can be a great adventure better than any book.