A coincidence is not a coincidence when its effect is to turn people's thoughts to the Lord.
In a previous article, I mentioned that I'd write two stories about real-life coincidences that indicate to me the love of Jesus in the days before my Mom's death, because someone was provided exactly what they needed in a surprise way. This is one of those stories.
Background: at the time of this story, my mother was declining in health rapidly due to breast cancer. My brother-in-law was in the hospital in a touch-and-go situation requiring daily attention from my wife and her sisters. And my middle daughter Monica was getting less attention than she normally gets when she comes home from college for a several-day break.
So my wife Mary, stressed to the hilt but still mindful of the needs of her children, said to Monica, "Sweetheart; I haven't given you much attention recently. I'd like to do something nice for you. Can I make you a nice home-made dinner tonight ?" (She might have been hoping for a request for hamburgers or evening omelets – something quick.)
Monica answered, "Mom, would you mind making me some lasagna?"
Mary hesitated because of the time it takes to make real home-made lasagna – about 2.5 hours, and more if you include a shopping trip for the ingredients. It would add more stress to her already stressful week. But she put trust in the Author of Love, and gave up her hesitations, and said to Monica, "Sure, I'll do that for you."
Mary made up a shopping list and got into the car. While driving to the store, Mary got a mobile phone call from our friend Sue. Sue said, "Mary, I know you have been going through a lot recently. So I made you some dinner, and I'm ready to bring it over. It's lasagna."
You as the reader may not feel the same pizazz from that story that Mary and I felt. But to us, it meant this: Jesus was aware of Mary's willingness to sacrifice (adding stress to her life) for the sake of her daughter's happiness, when Mary could very well have said, "I'm sorry Monica, but I'm too stressed to cook; please go grab some pizza". Since that kind of self-donative sacrifice is exactly what Jesus requests of us, we interpreted this coincidence as meaning, "I recognize your self-sacrifice and I ease your burden as a reward."
Note that Sue also had to be 'receptive' to the urge to actually make the lasagna as well, indicating God's movement in a second person's life.
Non-Christians can take any one of these stories and dismiss it as sheer coincidence, and any one of these stories may well be no more than a chance occurrence. But the reason it's so easy for our family to 'see' Jesus in a story like this is that the sheer number of events like this that have occurred at just the right time have the effect on us of telling us that there is a big loving Man in the sky who knows about us and acts to show us love. Over time it's no longer a 'strange coincidence'. It becomes a series of 'events with the Lord', and it builds a relationship as surely as does a series of love notes in a child's lunch box.