I've never read Terry Pratchett, but my wife is reading Interesting Times and recently commanded me to read the first page. I'm glad that I did. The novel starts out with these lines:
This is where the gods play games with the lives of men, on a board which is at one and the same time a simple playing area and the whole world.
And Fate always wins.
Fate always wins. Most of the gods throw dice but Fate plays chess, and you don't find out until too late that he's been using two queens all along.
Fate wins. At least, so it is claimed. Whatever happens, they say afterwards, it must have been Fate.*
Pratchett attaches a footnote to this section. It reads as follows:
*People are always a little confused about this, as they are in the case of miracles. When someone is saved from certain death by a strange concatenation of of circumstances, they say that's a miracle. But of course if someone is killed by a freak chain of events -- the oil spilled just there, the safety fence broken just there -- that must also be a miracle. Just because it's not nice doesn't mean it's not miraculous.
For many years and for a variety of reasons, whenever I've heard someone say "Dude, whatever happens, it was meant to be," I've suppressed a strong desire to slap him. Fortunately, in seminaryland, theology this bad is fairly rare. But I have often heard among my fellow Christians, including myself, the sentiment "God did X for me as a blessing."
But as I grow older, I am increasingly disinclined to attribute anything that happens to me, as either blame or praise, to God. Just as misfortune sometimes ends as a blessing, so does good fortune sometimes ends as a curse.
For example, when a charismatic and talented woman joined my last church and began engaging in ministry enthusiastically, I said confidently, "God brought this woman here to bless us and bring us revival." She said this, too -- in fact, that God had appeared to her in a vision and told her to join that church. But when she turned out to be a manipulative charlatan whose only interest was power and essentially destroyed the church, I did not say "God brought this woman here to curse us and destroy a Christian community." My earlier confidence that a particular event was the blessing of God proved to be totally incorrect. And if we accept the premise that God never smites followers who are faithful to him, then the arrival of this woman was not induced by God.
My point is that perhaps we shouldn't be so quick to attribute incidents in our lives to divine activity. If we can't say that a happening in our lives is either good or bad, then we really don't know whether or not anything that happens to us is actually God's intervention. Just as Henry Neufeld recently argued that we should be humble about accrediting our own thoughts to God, maybe we should also be humble about our own ability to even perceive what God is doing in our world.