I was out running an errand a few minutes ago and spending some time in prayer when I witnessed a vehicle wreck at the intersection of Main and 18th Street.

I was headed westbound on Main following a guy pulling a trailer. As we approached 18th Street, I noticed a tan Ford SUV aimed eastbound waiting for the truck and me to pass so that she could turn onto 18th. The driver of the blue minivan behind her apparently wasn’t paying attention. She slammed into the rear driver side of the Ford and ricocheted into the driver ahead of me. Fortunately, he had passed milliseconds before and she didn’t hit him – she slammed into his trailer. Metal and plastic smashed and exploded into the air in that moment. I don’t remember hitting my brakes but I was able to stop and avoid hitting anyone. I then called 911.

If I had been about 2-3 seconds ahead of schedule, I would have been involved. Instead of hitting a lifeless trailer the driver of the Chrysler would have hit me head-on or on the driver’s side. While I was glad that everyone seemed (at least immediately) to be OK, the vehicles were horribly damaged and I was left thinking about what could have been.

And in those moments, I was reminded of how some people would say things like: “Wow! God was watching out for you, Matt! You could have been in a horrible accident but God protected you!” Well, that’s true but doesn’t saying such things imply that the persons in the wreck were NOT protected by God? Doesn’t saying such things question God’s goodness or power in keeping those in horrible tragedies from such events?

God is just as good and just as in control by protecting me as He would be if I had been involved. Following Jesus doesn’t create some promise from Him that things will go well for us. It simply assures us that whatever comes our way is intended for our good (Romans 8:28) and that He will be with us (Hebrews 13:5) as we go through it.

With this understanding, we really can “give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). We can thank God when He protects us and when He doesn’t because we know that He intends everything for our good (to make us more like Jesus) and it absolutely must come through His powerful hands before it gets to us. There is much comfort to be found in these thoughts.