What kind of person are you? Are you one of the cheery, “Good morning, Lord!” type of people, eager and excited about the opportunities and challenges of the new day? Or are you more like the grumpy, “Good Lord…morning!” types, someone who begins each day with trepidation, fearful of what the next hours might present? This is an important consideration, because how we approach each day can significantly affect how it unfolds.
Essayist, poet and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Write on your heart that every day is the best day of the year.” This view makes a lot of sense. We certainly don’t have yesterday; it’s already passed, quickly moving into the history book of our life. And tomorrow hasn’t arrived yet, so it’s not of much value to us as the moment. It might offer promise, but the quality of our tomorrows can be shaped in large measure by what we do with our todays.
Following my open-heart surgery in 2006, I adopted a similar perspective: “Every day is a gift.” Leading up to this major operation, my surgeon had assured that my prognosis was very good. However, he did admit there was a very slight possibility of complications. In surgeries of that type, sometimes the unforeseen does occur. So when I awakened after the nearly six-hour surgery and emerged from my anesthetic-induced mental fog, I rejoiced in knowing the procedure had gone as expected.
It's humbling to realize that the life we take so much for granted can hang from a proverbial thread, so to regard every new day as a gift from the Lord is appropriate. As Psalm 90:12 advises, “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”
Too often we spend our time obsessed about the future: Graduating from college; getting that promotion (or pay raise); the long-awaited vacation; the moment we emerge from the current crisis; moving onto the next stage of life that we’re certain will be easier and less stressful (even though it won’t).
Repeatedly in the Scriptures we’re warned not to focus so much on what’s yet to come that we miss out on what’s already here. Psalm 118:24 declares, “This is the day that the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” To not appreciate today, the moments we have at hand, is like receiving a gift but casting it aside, unopened, trying to discover what we haven’t been given yet.
There’s always the possibility that what we’ve so eagerly anticipated won’t meet our expectations, so we might as well enjoy the day we have right now. “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth,” Proverbs 27:1 admonishes us.
Jesus Himself cautioned against becoming too future-focused, since we might need all the strength and resources we can muster to cope with the demands of the present. “Don’t worry about tomorrow – each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34). Worry, fretting about the future and unknowns that lie beyond our sight can be debilitating.
And we’re displaying a lack of trust in the Lord’s promise to “give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11). It’s much better to recognize today for what it is – a gift – and value it accordingly. It might indeed be the best day of the year, as Emerson suggested. Then, when “tomorrow” transforms into the next “today,” we can receive it thankfully, too.