This article is written as a response to discussion on Facebook about an event that happened in my house yesterday. Here is a quick recap of the event timeline, for background information:
- 4:59 AM – I receive an email from my server stating that two of my 17 hard drives have failed. Because of my redundancy setup, no data has been lost.
- 5:00 AM – Marlene’s alarm clock goes off, and I hear a beeping in the basement.
- 5:02 AM – I find the basement is filled with smoke, and the server is powered off.
- 7:00 AM – I have disassembled and reassembled the server, and found that the culprit was a SATA power cable (feeding two drives) that caught fire, as seen below. The server is back up and running, and no data has been lost.
My personal response
I am very happy with the sequence of events. No one was hurt. Nothing valuable was damaged. Because of the specific timing of things, the server (which hosts a number of parts of my life, including this blog you are reading right now) was only down for 2 hours. And I feel that I have learned a valuable lesson from the experience: I now know the hidden cost of using dirt cheap power cables in my system.
On the whole, I am thankful to God that this scenario occurred in exactly the way that it did. I can think of many ways it could have played out worse, resulting in more inconvenience, higher financial impact, and even injury or loss of life.
But didn’t God cause the situation in the first place?
Hmm… Good question! My best answer: I don’t know!
Seriously, he might have. In order to explain further, let me relay my own personal viewpoint of how God works.
DISCLAIMER: This is my own model of God’s influence in my life. I don’t claim that it is true. As with any scientific / mathematical model, I have created it to explain my observations, and find it useful as a predictor, but I am open to revising or rewriting the model as inaccuracies are discovered.
Given: God created the universe. I’m not going to discuss this here, and without this presupposition, the rest of the discussion is irrelevant.
- God designed the universe with physical laws that govern the way things work. We have discovered many of those laws, but many of them are still left to be discovered.
- God is able to intervene, as He sees fit, to make events happen that are beyond the scope of the laws he put in place. How often He does intervene is unknown.
- God has created humans with the capacity to make choices outside of this system of physical laws. For more on my perspective, see Supernatural me.
- Sometimes, God allows the results of our choices to play out completely according to physical laws and according to interactions with other humans, whose actions are outside the physical laws.
- Sometimes God intervenes, for His unknown purposes, to prevent or to cause actions other than what would otherwise occur as a result of human decision and physical laws.
I don’t always know when God has intervened in a situation and when He hasn’t. There have been times when I was strongly convinced that He had; this is one of those times. I believe that God orchestrated at least the timeline of this event, if not the actual occurrences themselves. The convenience of the timing has exceeded my own personal coincidence threshold.
Why would God cause your computer to catch fire?
I’m not going to get drawn into a deep philosophical discussion on “Why do bad things happen to good people?” That’s beyond the scope of this article, and often involves conjecture and assumptions about God’s purposes and other peoples’ situations that I don’t find very productive.
The best that I can do is examine my own life and try to figure out why events have transpired as they have for me. I know, it’s a bit of a cop-out. By most standards, I live a blessed life. I won’t say my life is easy; I find it quite challenging enough, thank you very much. I can’t directly compare with another person’s life, though, for obvious reasons. We work with what we have.
I feel that this particular situation was valuable to me. Let’s examine the results:
- I learned a lesson about computer parts.
- My faith in God grew.
- I shared my experience with others.
- I wrote this blog post.
Hmm… Notice #5? Now this is important. I don’t know all the results of this incident. There is no way that I could. I can’t see what my life (and the life of others) would have been like if my computer had not caught fire. I can come up with multiple scenarios, ranging from plausible to ridiculous, but it’s all just conjecture.
It comes down to faith
We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him.
– Romans 8:28 NIRV
Notice that in this verse, it says that God works in all things. I consider this to be different from saying that God works in each thing. I can’t analyze each individual event in my life and find the purpose of every circumstance. The very concept is meaningless. I liken it to trying to decipher the picture in a 1000 piece puzzle by examining a single piece.
In the end, I see the pieces fitting together in my life, and it is meaningful to me. I can share that with you, but none of you will see it with the clarity that I do. You must come to your own conclusions based on the circumstances in your own life.
I can’t prove God’s hand in my life, nor do I feel the need to do so. I believe it is there: guiding, shaping, comforting, protecting, loving. I thank God both for His intervention, and His lack of intervention, as the situation may be.