from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
- A recognition that others' misfortune could be one's own, if it weren't for the blessing/kindness/luck bestowed by fate or the Divine.
- Man's fate is in God's hands.
- More generally, our fate is not entirely in our own hands.
Allegedly from a mid-sixteenth-century statement by John Bradford, "There but for the grace of God, goes John Bradford", in reference to a group of prisoners being led to execution. (Wiktionary)