Just recently, a pupil asked me to give him some examples of French phrases which are used in everyday English, phrases that have crossed the language boundaries, so to speak, and become an accepted part of another language. English is full of these words and phrases: café, for example (the French word means coffee and by association came to mean also the place in which the beverage is drunk), not to mention words from other languages such as sombrero from Spanish, banana from African origin and my personal favourite Schadenfreude, ‘pleasure at another’s misfortune’, even if the meaning is obviously not as pleasant as the sound of the word!

I suggested to the pupil that in order to answer him, we would have to have a tête-à-tête after the lesson (literally head-to-head, this phrase has come to mean a private conversation between two people.) But the phrase which his conversation and recent events triggered in me is actually fait accompli.

Literally, this phrase means an accomplished fact. It’s defined in the English dictionary as ‘something already done and beyond alteration.’ A done deal. Fixed in stone, as it were. Something that has already happened, even if we might not always realise it.

“May it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38) reminds me vividly of this phrase. In a recent sermon Agreeing with God, I talked about how God speaks to us of His sovereign plans and we agree with Him, speaking the ‘Amen’ to His ‘Yes’ and thereby seeing the promise by faith before we can actually see it in this visible world.

Isaiah 25:1 TNIV says “O Lord, You are my God; I will exalt You and praise Your name, for in perfect faithfulness You have done marvellous things, things planned long ago.” God, who dwells outside of time, has plans to prosper us and give us hope and a future (Jer 29:11 TNIV) and works all situations together to make these plans come to pass (Rom 8:28 TNIV). As we agree with God, we come to see that, in ways that don’t negate our free will, we are actually mysteriously participating in a fait accompli – accomplished by God, realised through faith, and definitely worth praising Him for when we actually get to ‘possess by faith what we could not earn’ (Graham Kendrick).