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Many of us have probably heard the phrase “There but for the grace of God, go I” uttered in regards to someone else’s misfortune. This is a paraphrase from the Bible and is an acknowledgment that another person’s troubles could very well be our own. Although this saying is intended as an affirmation of humility, we could easily misconstrue it without a proper biblical knowledge of where it originated. Some people may think luck is what keeps evil from befalling us; luck has nothing to do with it, but rather God’s favor toward us.
Before becoming a Christian, Paul was known far and wide for his enthusiastic persecution and murder of Christians. When he finally met Jesus on the road to Damascus, Paul could have received the punishment he deserved—death—but his life was spared. Grace is undeserved, unearned, unmerited favor, and Paul received it in abundance. “But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me” (1 Corinthians 15:10). Paul acknowledged his past and admitted that what he had done was enough to condemn him in others’ eyes, but he also realized that he had received God’s grace and forgiveness.
Sometimes we make mistakes because of our own poor judgment and we wait for the bad consequences, but they never come. It’s not “dodging a bullet,” but God’s mercy and grace at work. Mercy is when we don’t get the bad we deserve, and grace is the good we don’t deserve but receive anyway. When this happens, the proper thing to do is recognize that God is responsible for it. “This is the Lord's doing; it is marvellous in our eyes” (Psalm 118:23).
When bad things do happen, trusting that God will bring us through them gives us hope and the strength to go on. Many of us have seen people who have become so discouraged that they’ve lost all hope, and their situation seems to progress from bad to worse. The only guarantee in life is that, at some point, we all face adversity of some kind. However, no matter how bad it seems, God will never abandon us when we depend on Him. “We are hedged in (pressed) on every side [troubled and oppressed in every way], but not cramped or crushed; we suffer embarrassments and are perplexed and unable to find a way out, but not driven to despair; We are pursued (persecuted and hard driven), but not deserted [to stand alone]; we are struck down to the ground, but never struck out and destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8, 9, AMPC).
God’s grace is always greater than any misfortune, disaster, or bad situation that we face. He promises us that He’ll never leave us alone to drown in our troubles. We display true humility when we trust in this promise. “…For He [God] Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. [I will] not, [I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let [you] down (relax My hold on you)! [Assuredly not!]” (Hebrews 13:5, AMPC). Believing in God’s favor assures us that no matter where we go, He goes with us.