During the past year there were numerous "disasters" around the world. Like many others did, we watched several of the television news releases regarding them. There were many tragic and depressing accounts given by those involved in these frequent devastations. Some told of the death or injury of their loved ones; others somberly related their personal property losses. Many others, we were informed, had been wiped out completely. There was in all this one thing noticeably absent from these startling accounts. Of those devastated souls we heard being interviewed, not one of them acknowledged the hand of God in these catastrophic events. There was only occasional profanity uttered where the name of Deity in one form or another was used. Sad as that was, there was one statement expressed in one particular interview that came as near shocking us as anything we have heard in many years, and we do not shock too easily any more. A lady that had lost nearly everything but her ignorance was being interviewed. She expressed her estimation of the circumstances this way: "But for the grace of fate, it could have been worse."
But for the grace of what?
After considerable reflection on this ridiculous avowal we concluded that this was no slip of the tongue, nor was it said in unawareness. Rather, this was a deliberate impertinence toward the God of all grace. God, the true and living God, had been replaced (at least in the mind of this woman) by a deity called fate. Fate, that blind god of inevitability and impersonal vagary, which knows neither love nor pity; void of mercy and compassion; without feeling, has been accredited with the attribute of grace. Grace is that sweet portion of God's compassion towards sinners and has been given a role with fate. Surely, bitter disappointment must follow for those beguiled by such confusion.
History records the fable of three ancient deities known as The Fates; Atropos, Clotho, and Lachesis. But we have never heard that these three capricious gods ever extended grace to those poor souls in the midst of sudden calamity.
"This know also, that in the last days perilous time shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, truce breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away (II Timothy 3:1-5)." Observe well the expression, "Having a form of godliness." Attributing grace to the fates comes as near to a form of godliness as we have ever seen, and is little more than religion run amuck.
From a worldwide perspective, religious activity is on the rise. Worship in some form or another is much in vogue. Some deluded souls worship idols, others are mesmerized by crystals. Astrology is the current god of choice for many that have never seen the hand of a creator therein. Humanism, foul as it is, fills the need for a deity for multitudes, both in this nation and in Western Europe. The psychic movement satisfies the yearning of others. Sex, pleasure and materialism answers the religious craving of other multitudes lusting for a more sensual god. Witchcraft is on the rise; especially among the younger population. Volumes have been circulated on just about every conceivable facet of religion to suit the taste of the masses. Thus we see fulfilled the scripture; "Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth (II Timothy 3:7)." It is very obvious that today there are vast numbers that do exactly what this scripture says of them; they seek out learning before stocks, stones, parsons, priests, and assorted altars of iniquity, but none of these can impart to them the truth as it is in Christ Jesus. These deluded souls remain as blind as the gods they worship. But for the true grace of God, so would we.
A now dead communist advocated that religion was the opiate of the people. It still is. They are allured by it, and covet its intoxicating effects. Religion provides a soothing balm for those restless souls. And, sad to say, for most, one religion is as good as another; so long as it is not the truth. "Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith (II Timothy 3:8)."
Despite this sad commentary, we may be sure that there is yet a remnant according to the election of grace that has not bowed the knee to Baal. Or to fate. Or any other phony religion. The redeemed family has been in the furnace of affliction. They are an afflicted and poor people. Besides the usual calamities that are common to all men, many of the saints of the Most High have been destituted, tormented, imprisoned, and even killed for their testimony and convictions. But it has never been known that a single one of them has ever departed from the faith by giving the glory of God to fate, chance, luck or any other system of contingencies. Rather their theme is "Praise God from whom all blessings flow."
"Though with afflictions sore,
He may them exercise;
Yet still His hand they shall adore,
And still His love shall prize.
"Should poverty, and loss
Of every kind of good,
Conspire to make our weighty cross,
Our helper still is God.
Unlike the troubled citizens of this world, the saints of the Most High would rather give up all than to deny the source of free grace. Fate has never done a thing for the sheep, and those that put confidence in fate are but strangers to them. Consider Job, the servant of God. It could be said that Job hit the jackpot when it comes to calamities. But did he see fate in the great wind from the wilderness, or the fire from heaven? Was he of the opinion that the Sabeans and the band of Chaldeans were driven on their mission by a whim of fates? Did he seek solace in vagaries? The Scriptures speak: "Then Job arose, rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground and worshipped. And said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb and naked shall I return thither; the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord (Job 1:20,21)." Job worshipped His God; the God of all grace. Job acknowledged the hand of God in all he had, and in all he lost as well.
"Grace reconciles to every loss,
And sweetens every painful cross;
Defends my soul when danger's near;
By grace alone I persevere."
With Paul we hope to cling to the sweet message from God in storms and affliction: "My grace is sufficient for thee." Let the fates have their deluded followers. Only grace from the God of all grace will ever calm the troubled beasts of the elect.
Elder James F. Poole