Life, the ebb and flow of circumstances; decisions and actions undertaken based on the best information at hand. Consequently, the feeling of complete helpless and the inability to manage events can become utterly overwhelming. Furthermore, when reflecting on the subject more deeply; does the ability to control the outcome of experiences even reside within one’s capacity? Often, life feels like a colossal, out of control current; the flow of a mighty rushing river forcing its traveler along wherever it appears to be going. Within the journey, neither rhyme nor reason can seemingly be distinguished by the exhausted wanderer. What is one to do?
While life does seem like a flow of disconnected random currents, scripture paints an entirely different picture. Inside its pages reside an idea that solidifies the uncertainty. It is true that control, from the human perspective, is an illusion. However, at the base of existence is a guiding Hand that is purposeful. This is not a meaningless “fate” where men and women are left to sing “que sera, sera (whatever will be, will be)!” This is a loving “Father” who is orchestrating history for an ultimate outcome! In a word, this movement of time and space can be described as providence.
Consider the reading from January 27th in our devotional Bible taken from the Gospel of Matthew:
And when they had come to Capernaum, those who collected the two-drachma tax came to Peter, and said, “Does your teacher not pay the two-drachma tax?” He said, “Yes.” And when he came into the house, Jesus spoke to him first, saying, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth collect customs or poll-tax, from their sons or from strangers?” And upon his saying, “From strangers,” Jesus said to him, “Consequently the sons are exempt. “But, lest we give them offense, go to the sea, and throw in a hook, and take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a stater. Take that and give it to them for you and Me.” (Matthew 17:24-27, NASB)
In this passage, Jesus is drawing attention to the fact that He is King; King of kings! Technically he and his disciples would be exempt from the temple tax since the temple is His. However so as not to offend those who were inquiring of Peter, Jesus provides by a rather unusual method of recompense.
Notice first that Jesus knew the question put to Peter before Peter divulged it. This reveals, as Jesus is God, His omniscience. That same knowledge overshadows the events of your life and mine as well. The next issue has to do with the coin itself. Did Jesus simply know it would be located within the fish’s mouth or did He cause it to be so? To ask the question is to answer it. Not only is God omniscient, He is also omnipotent; and the same power, working through presumably ordinary events of life is also working in the affairs that surround you and me. Think of the concepts not recorded. Was there a fisherman casting his net upon the lake with a coin in his pocket who, with great vigor, jarred the coin from its place with the throw? This is a “bad” circumstance for the fisherman. Maybe it wasn’t a fisherman. Perhaps a thief was running from his victim along the water’s edge and in his hast, flung the coin into the water. Regardless, whatever the coin’s origin; what was the speed and direction of the wind that caught the coin in midair to deposit it into the waves? Then consider the distinct course and strength of the current acting on the weight of the coin that plunged it to the exact depth at the perfect time that the right-sized fish with a mouth able to grasp it was swimming along in the direction of the shoreline that Peter would be dropping in a hook at just the right moment to capture the fish. Random events? I think not! God’s Hand working through the ordinary, making it extraordinary!
The next time you are overwhelmed by life, remember the coin!