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A Chain of Events

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Yesterday, I was driving the city streets, trying to get to work on time, when I ended up behind a slow car in my lane. That slow car slowed me up too and the light turned red just as I got to the intersection. I sat there at the red light fuming and thinking foul thoughts about that slow driver. 

Then, it occurred to me that maybe, just maybe, this is exactly what was supposed to happen at just this moment. Just maybe, God was looking out for me. Just maybe if I made that light and continued through the intersection, something bad would have happened to me.

I don’t know what that bad thing could be but my first thoughts were that by waiting at the red light, I missed some other driver also rushing to work and who would have changed lanes without looking and crashed into me with awful consequences. So I waited patiently at the light, quietly thanking God for looking out for me.

You never know what chain of events lead up to you with bit of good luck or with a bit of bad luck. 
Here’s a story for you - a contractor, let’s call him Joe, had a fight with his wife one morning. Joe went to work repairing a sidewalk on a busy street with lots of shopping. Joe, still fuming over the fight with his wife and not paying complete attention to his cement work, left a slight raised edge in the sidewalk. Another person, let’s call him George, thinking about his shopping plans and not paying attention to the sidewalk, trips on the raised edge, falls and twists his leg. 

The EMT folks take George the hospital. Sitting in the Emergency Room in a wheelchair, George stops a passing nurse to ask how much longer he has to wait to be seen. The nurse tells him soon. An hour later, no one has seen George. Annoyed, he sees the same nurse as before and… well to make this story short, George and the nurse get to talking and end up married.

There you have it. George has no clue that he owes his martial happiness to a marital spat between Joe and his wife.

Philosophers (Nelson Goodman, if you are a citation nerd) have a fine phrase for this sort of thing, Counter Factual. It’s a concept where you know what has happened but you don’t know and cannot really know what might have happened or might have happened very differently.

The rest of us just call it God’s Plan.


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