What John Bradford May Have Understood About Bankruptcy

John Bradford

John Bradford (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“There, but for the grace of God, goes John Bradford,” was uttered by John Bradford while imprisoned in the Tower of London in 1555 when he saw a criminal on his way to execution. This saying has eventually evolved today into the familiar, “There, but for the grace of God, goes I.” The thought evokes recognition that all of us are at the mercy one time or the other to outside forces we have no control over. Since I am a content writer for bankruptcy law, this saying has made me wonder what John Bradford may have understood about outside forces we have no control over, like bankruptcy for instance.

All I know about John Bradford is found in encyclopedias. Bradford was a prebendary for St. Paul’s cathedral in London during the 1550s. He was a Protestant and English Reformer accused of crimes against Mary Tudor for his faith. Tudor had Bradford arrested and placed in the Tower of London prison to stand trial for crimes against the Roman Catholic Church.

On January 31, 1555, Bradford was tried and condemned to death. On July 1, 1555, Bradford was taken to Newgate Prison where he was to be burned at the stake. He was chained to the stake with a young man named John Leaf. Before lighting the fire, it was reported that Bradford showed grace by asking  for forgiveness of anyone he had wronged and offering forgiveness to anyone that had wronged him. Then, he turned to Leaf and said, “Be of good comfort brother; for we shall have a merry supper with the Lord this night!”

Certainly Bradford was a man of faith and believed in outside forces that might influence what we cannot control. He believed in outside forces so strongly that he died for his beliefs.

In American society, many have unjustly condemned others because they have fallen on hard financial times and been forced into bankruptcy. In times past, financial ruin has been seen by some as a deviant act somehow and always in our own control. This perception held my others has often offered shame and guilt to those who have experienced the phenomenon.

What those of us in this modern economic world in which we now live might learn from John Bradford is that when it comes to finances, “there, for the grace of God, goes I.” Economic conditions can radically change in our world economy, and the changes may or may not have anything to do with our own control of the situation. Therefore, there are numerous reasons we can go into bankruptcy through no direct fault of our own. So indeed, outside forces beyond our control can play an important role in whether of not we end up in bankruptcy.

Here are some examples of events that can cause you to go into bankruptcy and may be out of your control:

  • you can unexpectedly lose your job and be unable to be re-employed;

  • you can unexpectedly experience poor health not only costing you more than you can afford but causing you to lose valuable work;

  • you can experience an unexpected divorce;

  • and you can experience a downturn in the economy.

All of these unexpected experiences can cause you to go into a bankruptcy because there, for the grace of God, goes you.

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