Providence, or pure lucky coincidence?


My father-in-law, in the middle of Bountiful Boulevard. The photo was taken by the daughter of the physician who was on the scene, and shared by her on Facebook.


I think I’m aware of all or most of the major arguments against the reality of divinely providential interventions in daily life.  I understand selection bias.  I’m keenly aware that the anguished prayers of parents to save the life of their children often seem to go ignored while other people, not apparently any more righteous, appear to be supernaturally led to find lost keys or to acquire a not-strictly-needed vacation beach home.  I once even offered a slightly tongue-in-cheek theodicy to account for the latter scenario.


But many, many, many people believe that they have encountered, benefited from, or been the agents of divine providence at specific points in their lives.  The bullet that missed, the unexpectedly right turn inexplicably taken, and so forth.  And simply knowing that bullets often don’t miss, and that disastrously wrong turns are often taken, seldom persuades them that they’re wrong.


Any who feel led to share such a story here are welcome to do so.


I offer another case:


We took my father-in-law to Hawaii a couple of weeks ago in hopes of cheering him up after the death of his wife back in April.  He had been astonishingly, selflessly devoted to her care as her health declined over the past decade, but now she’s gone.


In his late eighties, he enjoyed snorkeling in Hawai’i with us and with one of his sons, walking about the lava fields of the volcanic national park on the Big Island, strolling on beaches, and so on.  It was a great eight or  nine days.


Then, a week ago early Saturday evening, he was walking near his home, around the grounds of the Bountiful LDS Temple, when, evidently, his hip broke and he found himself prone in the middle of the street.


Fortunately, a car was slowly coming toward him at that very moment, and, with his daughter, the driver of the car saw everything as it happened.  The driver instantly pulled over, ran to my father-in-law’s side, called in for an ambulance, and attended to the injuries as best he could.  Remarkably, the driver was a veteran orthopedic surgeon by the name of Dr. Lyle Mason.  He immediately knew precisely what had happened and what to do.  We are deeply grateful to him.


We’ve since learned that he was running a somewhat atypical errand, and that he had felt inspired to take a different route than he would normally take.


I realize that questions and objections can easily be raised to any reading of this that suggests a providential element in the story.  My father in law strongly disagrees, though.  And, if reports are correct, so would Dr. Mason.



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