“There but for the grace of God am I.” How often have you heard that expression? How many times have you said it yourself when you’ve seen an alcoholic acting out or a homeless person panhandling at an intersection?
It’s a cozy phrase intended, I suppose, to offer gratitude for God’s grace. That’s what I used to think until the day it occurred to me that when I say it, I’m implying God is more grace-full toward me than to the alcoholic or homeless person. Can that be true? If so, is “For God so loved the world,” also true?
Now I cringe when I hear the “there but for the grace of God” statement, because scripture also says that “it rains on the just and the unjust,” and that “evildoers prosper.” There is a disconnect here.
The disconnect, I think, is the deep-seated feeling that if I’m good enough, only good things will come my way. But that doesn’t square with the story of Job, who was better than I could ever want to be. He lost everything, including his health.
In a recent grace-full incident, I wondered what I had done to deserve the good. It was when my lost cat was found (see previous post). I wondered why I got my cat back and Lisa’s is still missing hers, or why Devan’s hasn’t come home? Does God like me better than she likes them? I think not.
This moment of grace isn’t about who God prefers. It’s about what am I going to do because I’ve received grace in such a visible way. How am I different after my encounter with the burning bush?
Grace isn’t about comparing my social status, personal wealth, and all those other “things” with those of someone else – the things that we use as a measure of our blessings. It’s about how am I as a person toward others. Do I pass the grace I’ve been given to others? Something to ponder.