Jump to content

Menu

"By the grace of God..." (vent)


Recommended Posts

I really think Christians feel a sense of humility when they say, "...but by the grace of God, I (survived, avoided such and such, etc.)."  I know when I believed, it felt like the appropriate thing to say when I narrowly escaped something tragic.  But now that I'm not convinced that God exists, this phrase REALLY bothers me. 

 

A student who would have been sitting in a desk that had bullet holes (Florida high school shooting) happened to leave school early that day.  The students who sit on both sides of her were killed.  When interviewed, she said, "But by the grace of God, I left school early that day."  What about the students who died?  Where was God's grace for them?  How can we claim that God is the reason we survive tragedy and others don't?  Am I the only one who sees this claim as arrogant?  "God actually intervened in this situation to save ME.  I must be special.  God must have a purpose for MY life - the others ...well, not so much?"    How about not claiming a higher power stepped in unless everyone survived?  It's SO incredibly hurtful for people to hear those words whose loved ones didn't "make the cut" for God's grace.  Why don't we just call it the only thing we know it is - luck.

Edited by creekmom
  • Like 33
Link to post
Share on other sites

Yup. That has always bothered me so much. 

I have had some explain to me that since going to heaven to be with Jesus is a good thing, the people who died were blessed too, just in a different way & that the survivors are just expressing their gratitude for being granted more days on earth. 

(And if the dead are nonbelievers, well, who cares, they're cast to hell and that's what they deserve.)

Harder for them to explain how the people who live through a disaster but are bankrupted and lose their homes etc are somehow blessed by the events but then you usually get the 'mysterious ways' explanation.

It doesn't make sense to me... 

 

  • Like 9
Link to post
Share on other sites

Well if someone believes in God’s providence, recognizing that it is only grace (common or specific) that might preserve a life is the plain truth. In this worldview, luck doesn’t exist.

 

It was God’s specific hand in my life that gave me my son, for example - Benjamin’s life and course was an intentional working of his creator for his ultimate glory - it doesn’t matter that he isn’t perfect or lucky by the world’s standards. If the premise is that the entire course of history is the enactment of God’s specific, predetermined, intentional will with his creation, that saying fits perfectly.

 

Whether you are offended by it or not doesn’t make it less true. That isn’t to say there are not circumstances where expressing it should be tempered with sympathy or gentleness (it doesn’t matter whether God numbered my dead relative’s days, young or old, it’s not an appropriate thing to remind the grieving of until they specifically bring it up). But it’s not arrogant to recognize that it is only by God’s grace we draw breath, especially when confronted with the fact that others do not. That SHOULD prompt gratitude and awe, as well as humility to realize how NOT in control we actually are.

 

You didn’t make this a JAWM so I’m commenting with that in mind.

Edited by Arctic Mama
  • Like 36
Link to post
Share on other sites

I really think Christians feel a sense of humility when they say, "...but by the grace of God, I (survived, avoided such and such, etc.)." I know when I believed, it felt like the appropriate thing to say when I narrowly escaped something tragic. But now that I'm not convinced that God exists, this phrase REALLY bothers me.

 

A student who would have been sitting in a desk that had bullet holes (Florida high school shooting) happened to leave school early that day. The students who sit on both sides of her were killed. When interviewed, she said, "But by the grace of God, I left school early that day." What about the students who died? Where was God's grace for them? How can we claim that God is the reason we survive tragedy and others don't? Am I the only one who sees this claim as arrogant? God must have a purpose for my life - the others ...well, not so much? How about not claiming a higher power stepped in unless everyone survived? It's SO incredibly hurtful for people to hear those words whose loved ones didn't "make the cut" for God's grace. Why don't we just call it the only thing we know it is - luck.

You're not the only one. It's the same type of attitude that had me questioning religion and the "truth of it" at an early age - if you believe and go to church, it's all good. I asked "what about all the Chinese people and people in Africa?" and never got a satisfactory reply.

  • Like 6
Link to post
Share on other sites

Well if someone believes in God’s providence, recognizing that it is only grace (common or specific) that might preserve a life is the plain truth. In this worldview, luck doesn’t exist.

 

It was God’s specific hand in my life that gave me my son, for example - Benjamin’s life and course was an intentional working of his creator for his ultimate glory - it doesn’t matter that he isn’t perfect or lucky by the world’s standards. If the premise is that the entire course of history is the enactment of God’s specific, predetermined, intentional will with his creation, that saying fits perfectly.

 

Whether you are offended by it or not doesn’t make it less true. That isn’t to say there are not circumstances where expressing it should be tempered with sympathy or gentleness (it doesn’t matter whether God numbered my dead relative’s days, young or old, it’s not an appropriate thing to remind the grieving of until they specifically bring it up). But it’s not arrogant to recognize that it is only by God’s grace we draw breath, especially when confronted with the fact that others do not. That SHOULD prompt gratitude and awe, as well as humility to realize how NOT in control we actually are.

 

You didn’t make this a JAWM so I’m commenting with that in mind.

I'd be careful with this argument. You may be the "offended" party some day and this same rationale can be used against you.

 

Treat others as you would be treated.

  • Like 11
Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, it always strikes me as self-centered, along with "I'd like to thank Jesus for my success as a singer/actor/athlete/doctor/whatever...."

 

(And if you figure that God's specific intentional will includes genocide, Guinea worms, and Showtime on the subway, then I'd like to suggest that you examine your beliefs just a wee bit more closely.)

  • Like 6
Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd be careful with this argument. You may be the "offended" party some day and this same rationale can be used against you.

 

Treat others as you would be treated.

What are you talking about? I have had loss and pain and the physical realities of this world, too. I was speaking about that dead relative from a place of experience. And the disabled son. I could detail some more pain, but the extent of it isn’t the point. Everyone has their own struggles and hardships whether we see them or not.

 

There is no unkindness in recognizing that God’s purpose with his creation isn’t to make me happy and bless me just the way I want. That is directly contrary to the gospel and harmful, far more harmful than the understanding that the consequences of a sinful and fallen world, as well as my own sinful choices, span the breadth of painful human experience.

Edited by Arctic Mama
  • Like 31
Link to post
Share on other sites
That is directly contrary to the gospel and harmful, far more harmful than the understanding that the consequences of a sinful and fallen world, as well as my own sinful choices, span the breadth of painful human experience.

 

Wait, wait. Does God's plan trump free will, or is it the other way around?

 

Because I don't see how God can have a specific, predetermined intentional will on the one hand (your words) and yet this world can also be influenced by your own choices, sinful or otherwise. These two concepts are mutually contradictory.

 

Edited by Tanaqui
  • Like 7
Link to post
Share on other sites

Wait, wait. Does God's plan trump free will, or is it the other way around?

 

Because I don't see how God can have a specific, predetermined intentional will on the one hand (your words) and yet this world can also be influenced by your own choices, sinful or otherwise.

The free will of the creator of the universe is not the same as creaturely freedom. Nothing is outside of God’s control or plan, nothing is a surprise. Nothing is contravening Him. We are not God, we are not equal with him, and our will and sin is our choice, but it cannot thwart him.

 

I’m a monergist, not a synergistic, and hold God as sovereign. But the details beyond that are for another thread, as I have answered this one.

Edited by Arctic Mama
  • Like 12
Link to post
Share on other sites

What are you talking about? I have had loss and pain and the physical realities of this world, too. I was speaking about that dead relative from a place of experience. And the disabled son. I could detail some more pain, but the extent of it isn’t the point. Everyone has their own struggles and hardships whether we see them or not.

 

There is no unkindness in recognizing that God’s purpose with his creation isn’t to make me happy and bless me just the way I want. That is directly contrary to the gospel and harmful, far more harmful than the understanding that the consequences of a sinful and fallen world, as well as my own sinful choices, span the breadth of painful human experience.

See, I wasn't talking about God. I was talking about truth. And the truth of certain words or phrases, even if someone finds them offensive.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

See, I wasn't talking about God. I was talking about truth. And the truth of certain words or phrases, even if someone finds them offensive.

 

Ah, the truth was in the context of that worldview and set of presuppositions. Of course I’d argue that’s absolute truth, but only if you grant the foundational worldview. No discussion can be had if the premises are contested - but everything that followed in my posts was based on the initial salvo, not independent of it.

  • Like 9
Link to post
Share on other sites
The free will of the creator of the universe is not the same as creaturely freedom. Nothing is outside of God’s control or plan, nothing is a surprise. Nothing is contravening Him. We are not God, we are not equal with him, and our will and sin is our choice, but it cannot thwart him.

 

Well, you don't mind saying what you believe is true, no matter if it offends others, so I hope you don't mind that I feel the same way. This is nonsense.

 

  • Like 5
Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, you don't mind saying what you believe is true, no matter if it offends others, so I hope you don't mind that I feel the same way. This is nonsense.

I answered this above - the comment was following in line with the premise set on the beginning of my post, obviously if you don’t accept the premise you won’t agree with anything built off of it. That’s your issue to deal with, but my argument was consistent with the worldview I set out to describe. I was explaining why that wouldn’t be arrogant or whatever else, depending on the viewpoint of the person saying it. Read into that what you will, but intent and consistency matters.

 

I also addressed sympathy and appropriateness of how it was stated - asked and answered. One shouldn’t be intentionally hurting another under the banner of truth, but really just seeking to cut someone else with words. Truth isn’t divorced from love for a believer, and if it is there is a problem.

Edited by Arctic Mama
  • Like 12
Link to post
Share on other sites

Put another way, by God’s grace I draw another breath. And if I do not, it was just and right of Him to end my life. That I do not suffer every consequence I deserve for both my status as fallen man and my own specific choices is absolutely gracious. That’s getting into common, or restraining, grace, which is a tangent but factors into this perspective.

 

I think I’ve given more than enough of the Christian perspective, from a reformed tradition. Others will have a different view of it but there is nothing but truth in that statement if I make it - 100%, what I deserve and what I get are NOT equivalent, and it is God’s grace that makes the difference. Suffering is part of this life, and I am grateful that I experience less of it than I should, by my position as a sinful, fallen creature in front of a Holy God.

Edited by Arctic Mama
  • Like 19
Link to post
Share on other sites

I really think Christians feel a sense of humility when they say, "...but by the grace of God, I (survived, avoided such and such, etc.)." I know when I believed, it felt like the appropriate thing to say when I narrowly escaped something tragic. But now that I'm not convinced that God exists, this phrase REALLY bothers me.

 

A student who would have been sitting in a desk that had bullet holes (Florida high school shooting) happened to leave school early that day. The students who sit on both sides of her were killed. When interviewed, she said, "But by the grace of God, I left school early that day." What about the students who died? Where was God's grace for them? How can we claim that God is the reason we survive tragedy and others don't? Am I the only one who sees this claim as arrogant? "God actually interfered in this situation to save ME. I must be special. God must have a purpose for MY life - the others ...well, not so much?" How about not claiming a higher power stepped in unless everyone survived? It's SO incredibly hurtful for people to hear those words whose loved ones didn't "make the cut" for God's grace. Why don't we just call it the only thing we know it is - luck.

I have never heard anyone say it in an arrogant way, like to say that they thought they were more special to God than the people who didn’t survive the same tragic event.

 

I honestly just think people are sometimes so overwhelmed by what happened to them and so thankful to have survived, and they aren’t thinking about how others might interpret their phrasing.

 

I don’t see why we shouldn’t extend some grace to people who have survived terrible experiences, instead of assuming the worst about them.

  • Like 36
Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm a Christian and that phrase/attitude really bothers me!

 

I've been really hurt by the attitude of certain Christians in my life that everything they deem positive in their life is "God's favor". When carpy things happen in my life these are the people who start to "troubleshoot" what I'm doing wrong. Bleh. It was hard to not feel like things we're my fault for not being "xyz enough", kwim?

 

I decided to try church again but this time with a denomination that sometimes gets questions about whether they're "Christian enough". I like being with people who are not defined by what they're against.

  • Like 6
Link to post
Share on other sites

Hmmm. As a former believer who became pretty much anti-religion I see it as a form of "Holy #@$^, that could have been me!" Even when I believed I thought of it as more luck and coincidence than actual intervention from God.

 

I can see how it would bother those of you who interpret the saying more literally though. So yeah, if people are meaning it literally, it's bothersome. The tornado skipped right over our house where the baby was sleeping thanks to God. Well, what about the houses it didn't skip over? 

Edited by Lady Florida.
  • Like 8
Link to post
Share on other sites

I think it's one thing when someone says it to you about YOUR experience.    As in, isn't it great that by the grace of God YOU escaped THAT situation.   

 

But, when they say it about their own experience?   I think they have they have the right to see it as they wish. 

 

 

 

    

 

 

 

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

I am not Christian, but I've always seen that and similar sentiments less as "God has favored me in this way because I am an especially righteous person" and more as "I am lucky that God has favored me in this way."  

 

If you see God as the essential controller of things, and something good happens to you (or something bad doesn't happen to you), then the only logical conclusion is that you've been blessed or spared by God - but it doesn't necessarily imply that he's blessed or spared you because you're super awesome, just that you were lucky enough to be, at this point in the plan of the universe, blessed or spared.

 

 

I don't see God as a person sitting in the sky (or a sort of separate deity - "tao called tao is not tao," etc.), so for me, when I miss hitting a deer on the highway and say to myself, Thank God, I don't mean literally that a person in the sky has chosen to spare me from the deer (and not spared the people who do hit deer); instead, I'm expressing gratefulness at what you might call luck or providence or good fortune.

  • Like 4
Link to post
Share on other sites

I use that phrase as a Buddhist, because I'm not aware of nonchristian equivalent of receiving fate's favor ( this one time) when it could have just as easily been me.

 

I especially like to whip this out when it feels like the conversation leans in the direction of victim blaming.

 

There unfortunately are people (Christian or not) who believe that we get *exactly* what we deserve and that if tragedy befalls you or yours it because of some error on your part. This leads to a lot of blame and suspicion that no matter how good and perfect a victim of tragedy appears, they must surely have some ugly, dark secret sins that earned them this outcome. It's a horrible view of the world. 

  • Like 4
Link to post
Share on other sites

I really think Christians feel a sense of humility when they say, "...but by the grace of God, I (survived, avoided such and such, etc.)."  I know when I believed, it felt like the appropriate thing to say when I narrowly escaped something tragic.  But now that I'm not convinced that God exists, this phrase REALLY bothers me. 

 

A student who would have been sitting in a desk that had bullet holes (Florida high school shooting) happened to leave school early that day.  The students who sit on both sides of her were killed.  When interviewed, she said, "But by the grace of God, I left school early that day."  What about the students who died?  Where was God's grace for them?  How can we claim that God is the reason we survive tragedy and others don't?  Am I the only one who sees this claim as arrogant?  "God actually interfered in this situation to save ME.  I must be special.  God must have a purpose for MY life - the others ...well, not so much?"    How about not claiming a higher power stepped in unless everyone survived?  It's SO incredibly hurtful for people to hear those words whose loved ones didn't "make the cut" for God's grace.  Why don't we just call it the only thing we know it is - luck.

 

I am so sorry you are having doubts right now.

 

The use of this phrase bothers me too, along with similar phrases, "God is good, all the time," etc. While I believe they are accurate, they are phrases most often used by people who have a "good" outcome.

 

Because I believe God IS good, all the time, that we should praise God ALL the time, that by the grace of God--period. Can I see His goodness even in the worst of times? If something should happen to my child, should I get that bad doctor's report, upon any devastating news, my own thoughts, while maybe not instantly, should always revert quickly back to praising God, the grace of God, and His goodness. Because it is true whether everything is going along nicely in my life--or not.

 

Like you, I also have thought similarly when these shootings (or any large awful news story) occur. I've been close to two/three of them (various reasons). I would never tell a friend, "I am so glad your child survived," because someone else's did not. There is no gladness there.

 

I don't believe God necessarily interferes either way here, but I believe that beauty WILL rise from the ashes, some how, some way, if we keep our focus on Him. I have watched a few close friends walk through horrible tragedies, series of tragedies, and I have seen God do great works in their families (despite the random and unconnected losses of several children/grandchildren for one example). This world IS NOT ALL THERE IS, and this life here is short--sometimes shorter than we can imagine. There IS a purpose for every life; God has a plan for my life, although He may not play that out for me to see it while I am here on earth.

 

We are not to look at things from an earthly perspective. While we can't see it from an entirely heavenly perspective, there ARE answers to your questions and your doubts. But they won't be heard in a newsclip from a 15 year old whose natural first thought is to find some reason why she survived.

 

:grouphug: :grouphug: :grouphug:

 

 

  • Like 9
Link to post
Share on other sites

Well if someone believes in God’s providence, recognizing that it is only grace (common or specific) that might preserve a life is the plain truth. In this worldview, luck doesn’t exist.

 

It was God’s specific hand in my life that gave me my son, for example - Benjamin’s life and course was an intentional working of his creator for his ultimate glory - it doesn’t matter that he isn’t perfect or lucky by the world’s standards. If the premise is that the entire course of history is the enactment of God’s specific, predetermined, intentional will with his creation, that saying fits perfectly.

 

Whether you are offended by it or not doesn’t make it less true. That isn’t to say there are not circumstances where expressing it should be tempered with sympathy or gentleness (it doesn’t matter whether God numbered my dead relative’s days, young or old, it’s not an appropriate thing to remind the grieving of until they specifically bring it up). But it’s not arrogant to recognize that it is only by God’s grace we draw breath, especially when confronted with the fact that others do not. That SHOULD prompt gratitude and awe, as well as humility to realize how NOT in control we actually are.

 

You didn’t make this a JAWM so I’m commenting with that in mind.

This is such a good explanation of this phrase. It does bother me when people claim god's favor based on their own successes and luck. It feels arrogant. But this description ( and you r following posts) bring it much closer to my own ideas of destiny and karma. Karma doesn't care. It doesn't love or hate. it just is. No matter how you feel about it. 

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites

 I asked "what about all the Chinese people and people in Africa?" and never got a satisfactory reply.

 

Huh. What about them? Because the areas of the world with the most growth in Christianity have been Africa and Asia in the last several years, if I remember the stats correctly.  What would be a "satisfactory reply" on this to you?

Link to post
Share on other sites

I really think Christians feel a sense of humility when they say, "...but by the grace of God, I (survived, avoided such and such, etc.)."  I know when I believed, it felt like the appropriate thing to say when I narrowly escaped something tragic.  But now that I'm not convinced that God exists, this phrase REALLY bothers me. 

 

A student who would have been sitting in a desk that had bullet holes (Florida high school shooting) happened to leave school early that day.  The students who sit on both sides of her were killed.  When interviewed, she said, "But by the grace of God, I left school early that day."  What about the students who died?  Where was God's grace for them?  How can we claim that God is the reason we survive tragedy and others don't?  Am I the only one who sees this claim as arrogant?  "God actually interfered in this situation to save ME.  I must be special.  God must have a purpose for MY life - the others ...well, not so much?"    How about not claiming a higher power stepped in unless everyone survived?  It's SO incredibly hurtful for people to hear those words whose loved ones didn't "make the cut" for God's grace.  Why don't we just call it the only thing we know it is - luck.

The two statements I bolded seem to contradict each other.  So, do you think they feel humble, or they feel arrogant?

 

FTR, I do not believe a divine being exists.

 

But, I do believe that Christians who say such a thing ARE feeling humble.  As in "I am not worthy of the grace God has given me." and "why has God graced me with such a gift when he did not gift others the same."  When someone survives something horrific like that, they often feel guilty for having done so.  Carrying such guilt around for your entire life is really unhealthy and I suspect that for those who believe, "by the grace of God" helps them deal with such guilt.  They don't feel special at all and can't understand why their life didn't end.  

Edited by happysmileylady
  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm a Christian and that phrase/attitude really bothers me!

 

I've been really hurt by the attitude of certain Christians in my life that everything they deem positive in their life is "God's favor". When carpy things happen in my life these are the people who start to "troubleshoot" what I'm doing wrong. Bleh. It was hard to not feel like things we're my fault for not being "xyz enough", kwim?

 

I decided to try church again but this time with a denomination that sometimes gets questions about whether they're "Christian enough". I like being with people who are not defined by what they're against.

 

 

I usually stay out of threads like these because as another poster said, it all depends on the premise. But this type of "theology" is unfortunately rather prevalent and rather hurtful to people.

It clearly says in scripture (of course only meaningful to those who believe it): "The rain will fall on the just and the unjust." Another verse reads: "As surely as the sparks fly upward you shall have trouble."

 

Nowhere does it say, trouble is only for those whom God "forgot" to favor.

  • Like 10
Link to post
Share on other sites

Hmm, well I've generally understood that phrase t mean that the person saying it could just as easily had the same bad outcome, and the processes that led to the good outcome are nothing to do with one's own goodness or choices or value.

 

So kind of the opposite of claiming some greater worth.

 

I think it takes for granted the idea that all actions are contained within God's providence, so without understanding that, the context of the statement might be unclear.

  • Like 14
Link to post
Share on other sites

Huh. What about them? Because the areas of the world with the most growth in Christianity have been Africa and Asia in the last several years, if I remember the stats correctly. What would be a "satisfactory reply" on this to you?

This was 30+ years ago, and irrelevant now as I'm no longer a believer.

Edited by fraidycat
  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

incidentally, as far as the question of good outcomes being a sign of favour in Christian theology, I'd recommend the Consolation of Philosophy, by the Roman politician Boethius, written when he was imprisoned. It covers both the nature of fortune and the question of free will and providence.  

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

Outspoken believe -- and being prosecuted for that -- is a core trait in certain strains of Christianity.   It's a  sign of virtue.

 

From MY religious perspective, it is a really hard thing to hear. I'm blessed because of God = those aren't blessed, were not looked as favorably by God.  Uncle didn't die of cancer, my dad did, by grace of God............   It doesn't fit my faith POV at all and honestly I find it distasteful.

 

But I do understand that it is not "bragging", it is fulfilling a spiritual practice- it's an obligation,  like prayer. It's not done for me, intended for me, anything  to do with me.  So it's an tolerance opportunity.  Since I come from a Chrsitian background it can be harder for me "put up with" Christian spiritual practices than ones that are more outside of my experience.  But, I try.

 

 

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Well if someone believes in God’s providence, recognizing that it is only grace (common or specific) that might preserve a life is the plain truth. In this worldview, luck doesn’t exist.

 

It was God’s specific hand in my life that gave me my son, for example - Benjamin’s life and course was an intentional working of his creator for his ultimate glory - it doesn’t matter that he isn’t perfect or lucky by the world’s standards. If the premise is that the entire course of history is the enactment of God’s specific, predetermined, intentional will with his creation, that saying fits perfectly.

 

Whether you are offended by it or not doesn’t make it less true. That isn’t to say there are not circumstances where expressing it should be tempered with sympathy or gentleness (it doesn’t matter whether God numbered my dead relative’s days, young or old, it’s not an appropriate thing to remind the grieving of until they specifically bring it up). But it’s not arrogant to recognize that it is only by God’s grace we draw breath, especially when confronted with the fact that others do not. That SHOULD prompt gratitude and awe, as well as humility to realize how NOT in control we actually are.

 

You didn’t make this a JAWM so I’m commenting with that in mind.

 

I understand that you believe that, it's not what I happen to believe, but I can understand and respect that you believe it.

 

But I can't understand AT ALL, what people who believe this are thinking when they say it out loud to people who have just experienced something really hard, or groups that contain those people. 

 

I mean, if I believed everything was a matter of luck, I still certainly wouldn't say to someone who lost a loved one at Parkland "It happened at your school, and not mine.  Guess I'm the lucky one!"  I mean, I might think that's true, but I have manners!  

  • Like 6
Link to post
Share on other sites

I understand that you believe that, it's not what I happen to believe, but I can understand and respect that you believe it.

 

But I can't understand AT ALL, what people who believe this are thinking when they say it out loud to people who have just experienced something really hard, or groups that contain those people. 

 

I mean, if I believed everything was a matter of luck, I still certainly wouldn't say to someone who lost a loved one at Parkland "It happened at your school, and not mine.  Guess I'm the lucky one!"  I mean, I might think that's true, but I have manners!  

 

I think its because people often blame themselves or wonder if they'd done something differently, if the bad thing could have been averted.  They look for reasons why they are suffering and others were lucky.

 

The people saying it was just Grace are essentially saying, no, it wasn't anyones' fault, or anything they did.  I did not luck out for any reason we can understand.  It wasn't something under our control.

  • Like 6
Link to post
Share on other sites

I understand that you believe that, it's not what I happen to believe, but I can understand and respect that you believe it.

 

But I can't understand AT ALL, what people who believe this are thinking when they say it out loud to people who have just experienced something really hard, or groups that contain those people.

 

I mean, if I believed everything was a matter of luck, I still certainly wouldn't say to someone who lost a loved one at Parkland "It happened at your school, and not mine. Guess I'm the lucky one!" I mean, I might think that's true, but I have manners!

No, what you say is “I’m so sorry for your loss and my heart and prayers are with you as your grieve. What else can I do, if anything, to help you where you are?â€

 

Weep with those who weep. That doesn’t mean God isn’t in control, it means we are compassionate and know that pain is something we have to walk through and live with and one day we won’t - that’s the hope we have. Death isn’t the end. The grave is defeated. And the fulfillment of those promises isn’t yet, as much as we wish it were.

 

Like I said, believing it should inform us to compassion and humility and gentleness for one another.

  • Like 11
Link to post
Share on other sites

I follow a lot of people in the special needs adoption community.  I occasionally hear things that are like souped up versions of this, that make me cringe.  

 

Once, I was reading a blog by a woman who had adopted several siblings from Sierra Leone.  These kids had one of the hardest pre-adoption stories I have ever read.  It involved their parents murder, and fleeing in the middle of the night, and other siblings who were either conscripted as child soldiers or died of dysentery in refugee camps. 

 

Anyway, a few days after the kids came home, their new mother posted something along these lines:

"I like to use paper cups.  I'm paranoid about germs, and I think it's safer, but yesterday I ran out of paper cups.  I didn't want to go to the store, because the kids are still so overwhelmed, so I got down on the knees and prayed.  Sure enough, a few hours later a neighbor knocked on my door and said 'I was at the store and I thought I should pick up something for you, but I couldn't think what.  So, I got you paper cups.'  I gathered my children, and showed them the cups and told them "See, God cares for us.  He won't let anything bad happen to us because he knows we're good people

 

All I could think is "Who the hell tells small children, who have seen almost their entire family die in terrible ways, that bad things don't happen to good people?"  Wouldn't that basically be the same as telling them that God didn't love them until they became Christian?  

 

I also have to admit that I wondered, if you're so confident that you're "chosen" and God would never let anything bad happen to you, why are you using paper cups again? 

 

This is an extreme example, but I see similar things pretty regularly, and every time I shudder.

  • Like 19
Link to post
Share on other sites

I have never heard anyone say it in an arrogant way, like to say that they thought they were more special to God than the people who didn’t survive the same tragic event.

 

I honestly just think people are sometimes so overwhelmed by what happened to them and so thankful to have survived, and they aren’t thinking about how others might interpret their phrasing.

 

I don’t see why we shouldn’t extend some grace to people who have survived terrible experiences, instead of assuming the worst about them.

Yes, this. And I have also said it about people with drug addiction, or homelessness, or other disaster: But for the grace of God go I. I don't know why I wasn't born into poverty or to a drug addicted mom, or into terrible circumstances. I don't deserve God's grace. For some reason I was born into a healthy family. But for the grace of God go I into drug addiction or crime or poverty and homelessness. It's really saying you identify with those folks and recognize that if not for the grace of God you might be in the same space. It's recognizing the fact that you aren't in your present situation because of something you did. I guess those who aren't religious might say "But for the good decisions of my ancestors, or my decisions (if you were raised in a terrible situation but escaped) go I.

  • Like 4
Link to post
Share on other sites

In my "circles," the meaning of that is always to do with the fact that we are all capable of the very worst sins were it not for God's grace. We would say something like, "But for the grace of God, I could have committed that same act (killed someone, been a drug addict, committed suicide, been a thief, etc.). 

 

"The story that is widely circulated is that the phrase was first spoken by the English evangelical preacher and martyr, John Bradford (circa 1510–1555). He is said to have uttered the variant of the expression - "There but for the grace of God, goes John Bradford", when seeing criminals being led to the scaffold."

  • Like 5
Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, this. And I have also said it about people with drug addiction, or homelessness, or other disaster: But for the grace of God go I. I don't know why I wasn't born into poverty or to a drug addicted mom, or into terrible circumstances. I don't deserve God's grace. For some reason I was born into a healthy family. But for the grace of God go I into drug addiction or crime or poverty and homelessness. It's really saying you identify with those folks and recognize that if not for the grace of God you might be in the same space. It's recognizing the fact that you aren't in your present situation because of something you did. I guess those who aren't religious might say "But for the good decisions of my ancestors, or my decisions (if you were raised in a terrible situation but escaped) go I.

 

 

Yeah, but, people still experiencing drug addiction and homeless can, at least in theory, overcome it with God's grace.     Not much you can do after  being murdered.

 

I mean, I'm not going to attack a kid who is traumatized by a shooting, but, hopefully he or she thinks about the comment and doesn't repeat them in front of  families whose kids were killed.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Mostly hear I hear people using it in a "Better not judge this person and what they're going through because I might be going through it too, and the grace of God (and not my own choices or specialness) is the only reason I am not." Christians are told to be thankful to God for their blessings, but there's no way to do that without implying something negative. I choose to be thankful anyway. I don't think God loves me more than people less blessed and less than people who have more blessings. I think we just have our own unique life situations and should be thankful for the good in them.

 

But I also don't go around talking about how God is going to make sure my life stays good and convenient and sheltered because I'm a good person or something. (That paper cup story above has me :confused1: .)

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

Suffering is part of this life, and I am grateful that I experience less of it than I should, by my position as a sinful, fallen creature in front of a Holy God.

Can I pass this quote on to someone I know who is struggling right now?

Link to post
Share on other sites

Can I pass this quote on to someone I know who is struggling right now?

Please do, and I will say a prayer for them. I preach this to myself with regularity and some days it’s hard just to put one foot in front of the other. A shot of my life in view of eternity makes the load feel quite a lot lighter when I remember to whom I belong, and the promises I’ve been given. The hard is truly hard, but this isn’t the end.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

I really think Christians feel a sense of humility when they say, "...but by the grace of God, I (survived, avoided such and such, etc.)." I know when I believed, it felt like the appropriate thing to say when I narrowly escaped something tragic. But now that I'm not convinced that God exists, this phrase REALLY bothers me.

 

A student who would have been sitting in a desk that had bullet holes (Florida high school shooting) happened to leave school early that day. The students who sit on both sides of her were killed. When interviewed, she said, "But by the grace of God, I left school early that day." What about the students who died? Where was God's grace for them? How can we claim that God is the reason we survive tragedy and others don't? Am I the only one who sees this claim as arrogant? "God actually intervened in this situation to save ME. I must be special. God must have a purpose for MY life - the others ...well, not so much?" How about not claiming a higher power stepped in unless everyone survived? It's SO incredibly hurtful for people to hear those words whose loved ones didn't "make the cut" for God's grace. Why don't we just call it the only thing we know it is - luck.

I am a believer in God and I have always hated that expression. I do use it sometimes in a sarcastic way with people who believe the same way I do.....which is to say that God doesn't pick and choose in that way,

 

I believe God has a purpose for mankind and the earth in general. I believe he helps us at times in various ways. But individuals are subject to free will and time and unforeseen occurrence.

Link to post
Share on other sites

 

I don’t see why we shouldn’t extend some grace to people who have survived terrible experiences, instead of assuming the worst about them.

 

I'm not assuming the worst about these people- I believe they are saying this in humility.  I remember saying it in total humility as well.  My point is that they don't realize how this statement comes across to others who were less fortunate.  Why did God save your child and not mine?    By saying God's grace saved your child from tragedy, you are also saying God (for some reason) chose NOT to save my child from tragedy.   That's the arrogant part - it's assuming God stepped in to save you and not others.

 

**Also, wanted to mention that the shooting story was just an example.  I obviously have nothing against the young girl.  It's just the latest example of someone using the phrase who survived a tragedy when others didn't.  I heard an interview from a cop who was one stoplight behind the one where the bridge collapsed.  She said the same thing.  Why couldn't God step in and let everyone be late????  Or just make sure the bridge didn't collapse on top of people in the first place - but that's another conversation.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not assuming the worst about these people- I believe they are saying this in humility. I remember saying it in total humility as well. My point is that they don't realize how this statement comes across to others who were less fortunate. Why did God save your child and not mine? By saying God's grace saved your child from tragedy, you are also saying God (for some reason) chose NOT to save my child from tragedy. That's the arrogant part - it's assuming God stepped in to save you and not others.

 

**Also, wanted to mention that the shooting story was just an example. I obviously have nothing against the young girl. It's just the latest example of someone using the phrase who survived a tragedy when others didn't. I heard an interview from a cop who was one stoplight behind the one where the bridge collapsed. She said the same thing. Why couldn't God step in and let everyone be late???? Or just make sure the bridge didn't collapse on top of people in the first place - but that's another conversation.

If they’re truly saying it in humility, I would not assume any arrogance because none was intended.

 

Just because a person says that he was saved “by the grace of God†doesn’t mean that he believes that other people didn’t deserve to live.

 

My dad died of leukemia. I have known other people who survived the same disease and who believe that God had a hand in their survival. It would never occur to me that when they said God had saved them, that they also meant that my dad wasn’t as worthy as they were, or that God loved them more than He loved my dad. I would never think to be offended by their comments. They were cured of a disease that kills many people and they are very grateful for their survival. If they believe God saved them, I am very happy for them, and I don’t look for reasons to be offended by their heartfelt thankfulness that they are still alive.

  • Like 8
Link to post
Share on other sites

Our Sunday this week was mostly about this. Why God allows one person to suffer and another not.

 

When I use that phrase it would be more in relation to something people typically would think was related to character or hard work or something - like kids becoming drug addicts or someone ending up unemployed. It's just a way of acknowledging that it's not necessarily anything I've done that's given us a better outcome. I feel like that's an important counterbalance to the attitude Christians can have of - we do everything right so everything good that happens is because of the way we live.

 

But I'm not overly attached to the phrase. Ecclesiastes says it better "time and chance happens to them all".

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites

I’m currently doing some word processing for a pastor in our church in the topic of God’s will. We’re free will baptists so there’s an emphasis on god allowing people to make their own choices.

 

I can explain more later but sometimes I feel that people have an improper understanding of God’s hand in their lives and that’s why they say things like that.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm very religious.   I believe one the greatest gifts given to us by God - is freedom to choose.  (some people choose to do very bad things.  we need to  also focus on other people choose to do good things. becasue they're out there.)

 

I think the tbtgog people are siblings of Job's Comforters.  you know the ones who think the only reason people have bad things happen to *other people* is they must have done something to deserve it.  sometimes, bad stuff happens - because bad stuff happens.   and for many reasons. (e.g. not every one who develops lung cancer smoked)

 

I don't think it's about their "abundance" of faith, or humility - but actually I consider it a lack of faith (and humility).  and trying to convince themselves nothing bad will happen to THEM becasue "they're so pious."  iow: based in fear, and a form of self-comfort. 

Job's comforters go around telling themselves they don't do bad things - so they comfort themselves bad things won't happen to them. (during some particularly trying challenges - I dealt with a lot of jcs . . big, honkin' eye roll.)   tbftgog people - I think are very similar.

 

I ignore both groups.  I figure life will disavow them of that. or maybe not.

 

eta: - this is really not some hard and fast thing - there are so many nuances and little details.

Edited by gardenmom5
Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...