A “Looking Back” Understanding

Excerpt from To Heaven and Back by Mary C. Neal, MD

“Growing up, I was taught that Psalm 23-4 (‘Though I walk through the alley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.  For You are with me: Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me‘) referred to one’s own death and the dangerous journey back to God.  Now I believe it actually refers to the people who are left behind to grieve.  As grieving people walk through the valley of the shadow of a loved one’s death, their sadness, confusion, anger and despair can inadvertently prop open the door of their hearts allowing evil to silently enter.

King Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes that ‘people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end‘ and I would heartily agree.  We live our lives in forward motion, but only understand them when looking backward.  I therefore challenge you to keep a six-to twelve-month journal of coincidence.  In that journal, write down the details of every ‘coincidence’ you experience.

In one column, write the details of each major event in your life…What are/were the circumstances surrounding your acceptance into college, meeting your significant other, finding your job, choosing where you live, and so on.  Note every time the arrangements easily fall into place.

Similarly, every time you struggle with a situation write down the eventual outcome.  Write down the ‘bad’ things that happen to you or others and, in an adjacent column, list what happens as a direct or indirect result of these bad things.  I believe that when you look back through your journal at the end of your exercise, you will clearly see how many of people, events, decisions and outcomes are interconnected.  I think you will see a pattern of linkage that cannot be attributed to statistical chance.  You will see evidence of God’s work in your life, giving assurance that God has a plan for your life.

You will begin to recognize coincidental events for the miracles they really are, and you will know that God is with you even in times of sorrow, loneliness, or other misfortune.”

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