|“She gleaned in the field after the reapers: |
and her hap was to light on the part
of the field belonging unto Boaz,
who was of the kindred of Elimelech.”
|—Ruth 2:3 KJV|
Sometimes the language of the King James Version of the Bible catches my attention in a way the modern translations don’t. When Charles Haddon Spurgeon wrote his devotional book, Morning and Evening, he used the word “hap”—a word that was quite familiar at the time of his writing in the mid-1800s. It means “by happenstance,” or “taking place by coincidence, or chance.”
The unknown author of the Old Testament Book of Ruth tells the story about how Ruth, seemingly by chance, gleaned in the field of her mother-in-law’s relative Boaz. Here’s what Spurgeon wrote about the story:1
Ruth had gone forth with her mother’s blessing, under the care of her mother’s God, to humble but honourable toil, and the providence of God was guiding her every step. Little did she know that amid the sheaves she would find a husband, that he should make her the joint owner of all those broad acres, and that she a poor foreigner should become one of the progenitors of the great Messiah. God is very good to those who trust in Him, and often surprises them with unlooked for blessings.
If we stop to consider carefully the days of our own lives, most of us would see times when things that seemed “by hap” actually turned out to have occurred by the design of our Sovereign God. Along this vein, I read an account of the day Christian artist and author, Joni Eareckson Tada, had the diving accident that left her a quadriplegic for life.
Joni’s sister, Kathy, was at the beach with Joni. She stayed near the shore and suddenly felt a sharp pinch by a crab and screamed to Joni to watch for crabs. Because Joni didn’t respond, Kathy immediately went looking for her and ended up saving her from drowning. Kathy writes, speaking of God:2
From the big events in life down to the tiniest of details, he is great, he is sovereign, and he is in control.
When we are tempted to think that we have experienced a coincidence, we must remember that as God’s dearly loved children, our Heavenly Father sovereignly looks out for us, directs our ways, uses us in the lives of others, and yearns to have us honor Him with our thanksgiving for all that He so graciously does for us.
In the lives of those of us who belong to God through the Lord Jesus Christ, there simply is no such thing as “by hap”!
|1 Spurgeon, Charles Haddon. Morning and Evening. McLean VA: MacDonald Publishing Company, Public Domain. p. 599.|
|2 Tada, Joni Eareckson. Pearls of Great Price. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing Company, 2006. Devotional for July 19.|