Grace For Today, And Not A Drop More

My imagination is terrible at predicting the future. I mean seriously, it really stinks.

I’ve always been prone to worry and fear. When I was little, my brother and I would pray every night that we would have “no fires, no fear, and no bad dreams”. As I’ve gotten older, my fears haven’t gone away, they’ve just gotten more sophisticated. Now I fear things like cancer, and miscarriages, my children getting seriously hurt.

When my imagination injects itself into my fears, that’s when things get really bad. Suddenly a little shortness of breath isn’t a sign that I’m out of shape, but a sign of early onset heart disease. Which means that I might die suddenly of a heart attack. Which means that I won’t be around for my kids. Which means…

It goes on and on and on. And it’s not only about health issues. My imagination can run wild with worry over just about anything, from difficult situations in the church to concerns for my children to paying the bills.

But here’s what I’m learning. First of all, my imagination would make a terrible psychic. Most of the things that I worry about never come true. I waste so much time and energy churning over things that probably won’t happen. Mark Twain hit it on the head when he said:

I have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.

I’m also learning that God gives grace for today. Period. I will meet troubles today and God will give me grace for those troubles. He does not give me grace today for troubles that will come tomorrow. God doesn’t give me grace for imaginary troubles, he gives me grace for real troubles. That’s why worrying is such a stupid waste of time. I don’t yet have the grace for tomorrow, and when I look at tomorrow through the lens of today, it seems overwhelming. In Matthew 6:34, Jesus said:

Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

When I get to tomorrow’s troubles, God will be there with sufficient grace. The problem with my imagination is that it always leaves God out of the equation. It always imagines a future in which God has forgotten to show up.

But God showed up today with enough grace to get me through the day, and he’ll show up tomorrow too. So shut up imagination.

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  • C.J. McMurry

    Thanks for that simple reminder Stephen! HIS grace is indeed sufficient for each day. HE was able to rescue me from the muck and the mire when I was not at all expecting it almost 8 years ago. I’m pretty sure HE can handle whatever else comes my way between now and Glory! We sure do act like the Israelites grumbling in the desert don’t we? I sure am grateful HIS grace doesn’t depend on us, aren’t you? What an awesome God HE is!!!

    • Stephen Altrogge

      Yes, I'm really grateful that God's grace doesn't depend on me!!!

  • Bob

    I just heard someone say yesterday that we become an atheist when we worry.

    • Stephen Altrogge

      Wow, that's good.

  • CJ Rich

    Good word, Stephen. I REALLY needed this today. Also, prayers appreciated as I leave for Pakistan (ministering to the ministers) March 4th. And those two issues are really not related. Blessings.

  • Christine

    Makes me think of Ed Welch's book Running Scared…I first learned this "grace for today" lesson there. Thanks for the reminder!!

  • http://barrywallace.wordpress.com/ Barry Wallace

    That reminds me of this great little story Corrie Ten Boom used to tell:

    "When I was a little girl, " I said, "I went to my father and said,
    "Daddy, I am afraid that I will never be strong enough to be a martyr for Jesus Christ."
    "Tell me," said Father,
    "When you take a train trip to Amsterdam,
    when do I give you the money for the ticket?
    Three weeks before?"

    "No, Daddy, you give me the money for the ticket just before we get on the train."

    "That is right," my father said, "and so it is with God's strength.
    Our Father in Heaven knows when you will need the strength to be a martyr for Jesus Christ.
    He will supply all you need – just in time…"

  • HC Wap

    "He does not give me grace today for troubles that will come tomorrow."? Sure he does, it's called wisdom, prudence, and preparation.

    • Richard

      “wisdom, prudence, and preparation” grace indeed, but through the streets of works.

  • Todd

    This is so me. My wife is going to make me read this 3x/day until I die. Thanks for a good and timely word.

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  • http://jtcochran.blogspot.com Joey

    Hey Stephen. This post totally resonated with me. During the last year I've experienced a few panic attacks and it is all stuff that is no big deal. Yet, I keep on experiencing anxiety. In October my brother passed out at work and it made me super nervous because my eldest brother passed away from a heart attack when he was only 37. My brother that passed out is around that age and I am 29 turning 30 in March. Then that weekend I discovered a lump in my groin area. I was a mess for a couple weeks and my wife did not know what to do with me. I've never been like this before, but I've been a youth pastor at a good size church for two years now, which means I've been exposed to more death and illness in staff prayer times then I've had all my life. It doesn't help that I watch Grey's Anatomy. Praise God that the lump ended up being a benign limpoma, which is a fatty tumor that is completely harmless.

    Anyway, I totally resonate with your post. Praise God I'm starting to chill about my anxiety. Like you said, "Most of the things that I worry about never come true. I waste so much time and energy churning over things that probably won’t happen."

    Thanks again for a great post!

  • Lauren

    This has been such a refreshing word to read. What a clear and encouraging message, one I won't hesitate to share both with myself at times and those around me who need reminding of the incredible grace of God. God Bless!

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  • http://word007.sosblog.com Samson onyeka

    Thanks for such an encouragement. I’d like to add that in my own opinion i’d say its safer if we start seeing our troubles as nothing but challenges that we’ve been given the grace to overcome. Also we should understand that satan hides under the cloak of evil imagination to torment man. Hence we need enough dosage of God’s word to in our spirit to counter his imaginations. Lets not forget that it was this same weapon that jesus used against him. Lets endeavour to shout down wrong imaginations that tend to play out in our minds with “it is written….”.