There is the belief held among Christians that God is working in the everyday circumstances of life. Passages like Romans 8:28 fuel this concept, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (NIV 2011) We know that God works in all things. That is a bold statement by the Apostle Paul because it is a challenging idea to understand in present situations.
One of my favorite preachers, Fred Craddock, used to say that seeing the hand of God was like looking through stained glass. You must squint and strain to see it moving. There will always be those who say it is not God, but rather, luck, fate, destiny, or karma. As a believer, it is hard to convince people that it is God who has been at work in your life and nothing less.
Lately, I have become convinced that the only way to understand the working of God is by looking in reverse. We must stop what we are doing and look back across our lives to see his hand at work. The Old Testament story of Esther is one in which the name of God doesn’t appear, but his fingerprints are all over the story. There is just the right person in just the right place at just the right time. It sure appears to be far more than coincidence. The people of Israel understood this when the story was complete. Only in looking back could they see the work of the Almighty in the presence of his people.
I think the same thing is true for us. We can only see the plan and work of God when we step back and look at the big picture leading up to today.
If this concept is only evident when we look back, then we need to develop two regular practices to help us see his work better. My first bit of advice would be to set aside regular times for reflection. Instead of reading or praying, take some time to think about how God has been working. This would be an excellent annual practice for those who walk in faith as an attempt to piece together the work of God in our circumstances.
The other idea would be to start a journal. My initial suggestion would be to start a prayer journal. Write down all the things you are praying about currently. Then at the end of the year, look back over those prayers and notice how God has worked. After that, take out those from five or ten years ago. Make a careful observation of how God has answered your prayers in ways you didn’t even see as it was happening.
I am sure God is working in your life and mine. It is not always easy to see, but if we look back intently over the journey of our life up to now, I am convinced we will see God working in our circumstances.