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Coincidences—or Blessings?

Why we should be thankful for rude dudes, old rags and ugly typos.

Each week, I scan the news to find those little “twists of fate,” those “mysterious moments,” those “strange coincidences” that have changed people’s lives. Are all of these instances of a greater force at work? Maybe, maybe not. You decide.

1. Mike Barth, an information-technology worker in upstate New York, was waiting in line to buy a lottery ticket for himself and six coworkers when a rude man cut in front of him. Mike debated saying something, but decided against a confrontation.

The man in front chose a “quick pick,” where the lottery machine chooses the numbers randomly, as did Mike.

The man who cut in front wasn’t a lucky winner. But Mike? He and his coworkers won one of the largest lottery jackpots in U.S. history.

Now, I’d say God has better things to do with his time than pick lottery winners.

But then again, Mike is from a little town in upstate New York called…Bethlehem.

Let’s hope the winners do something good with that money.

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You can read the full story here.


2. There stands a gravestone in Oak Burr Cemetery, located just outside the city of Chicago. It reads: “John Wesley Donaldson, legendary left-handed pitcher in Negro League Baseball.”

The grave didn’t exist a few years ago. It was an unmarked plot for a forgotten man. Satchel Paige was the legendary lefty in the Negro League. Most people had heard of him. John Wesley Donaldson? Who was he?

Peter Gorton, a Minneapolis lawyer, had never heard of him either. His former social-studies teacher was writing a book about African-Americans in baseball and asked Peter to help out with some research. Peter found his way to the historical society in the small town of Bertha, where he inquired about Negro League ballplayers. The curator showed John a framed old newspaper with a big story about John Donaldson and his legendary exploits. But looking closer, Peter recognized someone.


Right below the picture of Donaldson was an article about the 1987-’88 District 24 Champion Staples Fighting Cardinals High School basketball team. Peter was in the team photo.

Amazed at the coincidence, Peter vowed to find out everything he could about Donaldson. What he found astounded him even more. Once he dug up the old box scores from decades-old microfilm and musty, yellowed books, Peter added them together and found that Donaldson’s stats rivaled those of Paige—and every other great pitcher.

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On his quest for knowledge, Peter found Donaldson’s death records and located the legendary lefty’s final resting place. Given a row number and lot number, he visited the spot. There was no marker. Nothing to remember that such an accomplished man was buried there.

Now there is, thanks largely to Peter’s efforts. And an improbably placed photograph.

You can read the full story here. 


3. Stefani Germanotta was embarking on a promising music career, something she’d dreamed about her whole life. But the name Germanotta just didn’t sound like one that would sell records. She and her producer struggled to come up with a catchy stage name.

Stefani loved the music of Queen, especially one song, which she and her producer listened to before many of their recording sessions. One day, the producer sent her a text message referencing the song.

Only he made a spelling error. And the phone’s predictive text produced a different word than the producer intended. Too late. The message had already been sent. Queen’s “Radio Gaga” became “Lady Gaga.”

And so did Stefani.

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Her music (and her outfits) may not be for everyone, but there’s no denying that the name Lady Gaga helped propel her to stardom.

You can read the full story here.

Maybe these moments weren’t entirely God’s work, but in each of these cases, they nudged people on a slightly different path, creating enormous rewards.

Have you had a similar experience? A rude encounter that you’re eternally grateful for? A chance discovery that set you on a new path, or helped you right a wrong? A blundered email, text or phone call that turned out to be the best mistake you ever made? Tell us your story in the comments below, or email us at

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