In January of 2009 Fred Berretta a banker from Charlotte, N.C. was on a business trip in New York City, he had just checked into his hotel room and had about 20 minutes of down time before he had to meet his colleagues. When he emptied his briefcase and came across a booklet, he had stuffed into a side pocket about a year ago on the Mercy and Divine Grace of God. Only two weeks prior, Fred had made a New Year’s resolution to try to get into better spiritual shape and closer to God. Here in this hotel room was an opportunity to fulfill it as he recalls having prayed and read the booklet on Mercy and Grace a few times years ago. However, by Jan. 15, 2009, it was a good intention mislaid, almost invisible among spreadsheets and quarterly reports and matters that seemed far more pressing.
The next morning he would be among 155 people to board a jet airliner at LaGuardia Airport bound for his hometown of Charlotte, N.C. Ninety seconds after takeoff, the jet hit a flock of geese, the engines exploded, and the plane would lose power at 3,200 feet. It would continue to lose thrust and altitude. Everything would become eerily quiet. Fred would cinch his seatbelt. His left hand would clutch the armrest, his heart would race, and his face would be flush with fear. He would think about his family — his wife and four young children. He would think about God, about death, about trust, about faith, and about the first portion of 2 Cor. 12:9 that he read the previous day in that little booklet on Mercy and Grace where God says “… My grace is sufficient for thee:” Over the PA system the voice of the pilot can be heard saying “Prepare for impact”.
As the ground surged into view, suddenly, it would come to him, the last passage he read before heading off to his meeting it was 1 Peter 5:10. It says “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you”. At that moment Fred prayed with every fiber of emotion and sincerity he could muster, ‘God, please continue to have mercy on us and cover us with your Grace although we do not deserve; your unmerited favor.'” Only by the Grace of God did Fred and the other 155 passengers survive to tell their story.
We deserve nothing from God. God does not owe us anything. Anything good that we experience is a result of the grace of God (Ephesians 2:5). God favors, or gives us good things that we do not deserve and could never earn. Rescued from judgment by God’s mercy, grace is anything and everything we receive beyond that mercy.
We find in the bible God is abundant in grace and rich in mercy. Mercy and grace are often confused the terms may have similar meanings, however grace and mercy are not at all the same. Grace means to get something that you do not deserve; unmerited favor. Mercy means you do not get the punishment that you deserve; compassion, forbearance. God is not punishing us as our sins deserve, and grace is God blessing us despite the fact that we do not deserve it. His Grace continues extending kindness to an unworthy world.