When you wake up, what are your first thoughts? Are your thoughts about today, what happened in the past, or wondering about what the future holds? “Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” (James 4:14) James reminds us that we have no idea what tomorrow will bring, or if we even have a tomorrow, but we do have today. “This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.” (Ps. 118:24)
Chances are most of us aren’t in the place or doing what we thought we would be doing. Joseph certainly had a lifetime experience of that. He was the favorite son and had dreams of greatness (Genesis 37:1-11). His brothers sold him into slavery to the Ishmaelites and then he ended up in prison (Gen. 37, 39-50). I encourage you to reread his story.
Through everything he went through, God was meticulously and methodically working His plans and His purposes in Joseph’s life. Where was God when Joseph was a slave to Potiphar? “The Lord was with Joseph so that he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master.” (Gen. 39:2) Where was God when Joseph was thrown in prison? “the Lord was with him; He showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden.” (Gen. 39:21) The Lord chose Joseph for greatness, but he was mistreated, slandered, and cheated. And yet the Lord was with him.
Had Joseph spent his time worrying over what happened to him in the past, had he harbored bitterness toward his brothers, had he wasted energy grieving what was bound to happen in his future, he would not have been successful in his present circumstances. The Lord was with Joseph, just like he is with each of us in whatever our present circumstances. Instead, Joseph chose to trust God. When we learn the secret of truly believing that God is intimately acquainted with our deepest desires and that His sovereignty rules the details of our lives, we will rest in our current circumstances.
We don’t know what the future holds, but we do know the One who holds our future. “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.'” (Jer. 29:11-13)
If we keep our minds in the past we let regret, remorse, grief, and shame consume the blessings God pours on us today. Don’t do that! If we let our minds spill over into the future, we are bombarded with anxiety, fear, and dread over what we imagine might happen there, and again we miss the presence–and the power–of God in our today. Don’t do that! The abundant life is experienced in the present, not the past or the future. The devil will tempt you to stay in the past or anxiously await what the future holds, but the Lord wants you to live for today. “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10)
The Lord has given us today, and He wants us present and available to His purposes. “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Heb. 4:16) The Lord is always with us. “You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Ps. 16:11) Let’s trust in Him for our direction and our tomorrows. “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and He will establish your plans.” (Prov. 16:3)
- Life Application Study Bible and Bible Gateway
- A Woman’s Guide to Hearing God’s Voice (Chapter 7)