Posted On January 11, 2021

24-Hour Increments (How Day by Day Grace Is the Only Way)

by | Jan 11, 2021 | Knowing the Faithfulness of Christ in All of Life, Featured

Psalm 68:19, “Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears us up; God is our salvation.”

As we turn the corner into a new year, emerging out of an old year that tested us at many levels, the question of faithfulness comes to the fore. What does steady—shall we call it plodding—faithfulness look like? How does one endure to the end in the midst of it all? Another way some might ask that question is: “Having just gotten through a really hard year, how can I possibly stay faithful for another year—and for whatever the number of years—that the Lord has ordained for me?” People can ask that question, but it is not at all the right one. The right question is: Can I, by God’s grace, be faithful today?”

I have long been committed to a 24-hours-at-a-time way of life. In fact, I sang it to Gayline at our wedding 43 years ago: “Day by day and with each passing moment, Strength we’ll find to meet our trials here…” Somehow, Gayline and I knew that we were going to need daily grace for daily trials; and we have.

I also remember when at 23, I received a call to pastor a little church in Ocean County, NJ. Having grown up in a pastor’s home, I knew well the rigors and costs of faithful ministry. So in this moment of calling, I suddenly sensed the terrifying prospect of a likely 50 years of ministry that lay before me. And I recall the fear-filled question that looped in my mind time and again: “Will I be able to endure in ministry for 50 years? Fifty years!”

But then I also recall sensing, as I wrestled with doubt and fear, an inner Holy Spirit reminder: “Tim, I am not calling you to pastor for 50 years; I am calling you to pastor for today. Do today, and I’ll do the rest.” By the mercy of God, I have lived with that mindset ever since. And I am here to declare the wondrous works of God: March 1, 2021, I will complete 38 years of pastoral ministry (that’s almost 14,000 todays). And He hasn’t failed me once.

But it is a fight to live life in 24-hour increments, which is why I am thankful for my headache. As I’ve written about elsewhere, for the last 32 years, I have had a constant 24/7/365 headache (due to nerve damage from a vicious bout with viral meningitis). I am always hurting at a 6-8 level on the 0-10 pain Richter scale. Always.

So why am I thankful for my 24/7/365 headache? Because it has forced me to delete the “7” and “365” from life’s equation. When dealing with this amount of pain, one cannot afford to let one’s thoughts and emotions wander into tomorrow or next week—and no way, into next month or year. I can only think in terms of 24. Twenty-four hours. If I dwelt on doing 24 more weeks or months or years of pain, I’d say, “Put me out of my misery now.” But if I think about doing 24 more hours, I can say “Bring it on!”—not because I think I can, I think I can; but because I know He can. Twenty-four hours—and sometimes even shorter—is as far out as my thoughts and faith need to go. And I bless God for my headache since it serves as an everyday reminder to stay within the 24-hour limit to which my faith is called.

Doing life in 24-hour increments is the only way to stay faithful over the long haul—and it is the biblical way. Paul rings this day-by-day note in 2 Corinthians 4:16—“…our inner self is being renewed day by day.”  That note echoes in Isaiah’s plea, “O Lord, be our arm every morning, our salvation in the time of trouble” (Isaiah 33:2). Then there’s Jeremiah’s affirmation: “the steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies… are new every morning…” (Lamentations 3:22, 23). We overhear it in the psalmist’s bedtime prayer, “Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.” (Psalm 90:14). For those who missed it, David turns it into it praise: “Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears us up; God is our salvation.” (Psalm 68:19). Even Jesus keeps it daily in his model prayer, “Give us this day our daily bread.” (Matthew 6:11); then commanding it in His famous sermon, “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (Matthew 6:34).

Here’s some unsolicited advice at this turn of the new year. I suggest that you start this new year by thinking in terms of one day: to-day. Make a New Year’s resolution to live this day, not this year, to do well whatever date today is, more than to do 2021 well. Life is best lived—and trials are best faced—when we live in today’s 24-hour increment and leave our yesterdays and tomorrows to God.

This is an essential life-secret. Without it, we languish in yesterday’s regrets or tomorrow’s concerns. We waste our lives fretting over what’s past and done or overwhelmed by what may or may not yet be. By dragging the past into today or letting the future invade our now, we burden our hearts either with what we cannot ever change or may not ever face.

We are not meant to do life this way. Thankfully, I am blessed with an everyday headache that reminds me that, in fact, I cannot do life this way. And as we all linger in a COVID-infected, politics-poisoned, justice-compromised, relationships-strained, trauma-filled world, we all need to be reminded of the same.

So my conclusion as we enter 2021?

Have a Happy, a blessed, and grace-filled new…day!

*This is based on an excerpt from Timothy Shorey’s devotional work called 30/30 Hindsight: 30 Reflections on a 30-Year Headache, 2019.

Related Posts

Some Keys to Finding a Good Word-Centered, Christ-Honoring Church

Some Keys to Finding a Good Word-Centered, Christ-Honoring Church

On today’s Equipping You in Grace show, Dave considers some marks of a healthy local church, what to look for and avoid in a local church, and why local churches should be firmly grounded in and shaped by the Word of God. What you'll hear in this episode What a...

When Does God (Not Man) Consider a Couple Married?

When Does God (Not Man) Consider a Couple Married?

Suppose a young man came to you for biblical counseling concerning the ongoing tension and conflict with his ‘partner.’ Oh, by the way, he and his girlfriend are living together, though there has never been a wedding. He says to you, “Well, we’ve already committed to...

The Forbidden Fruit

The Forbidden Fruit

Genesis 3:1-5, “Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You[a] shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” 2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit...

Amazing Grace

Amazing Grace

On today’s Warriors of Grace show, Dave continues the Titus series looking at Titus 3:4-7 and the reasons, resources, and results of grace. What you’ll hear in this episode The Reasons of Grace The Resources of Grace The Results of Grace How Sweet the Sound!...

Principles of Personal Bible Study

Principles of Personal Bible Study

Host Kimberly Cummings interviews special guest Betty Price about reading plans, memorization, meditation, and other principles of personal Bible study like observation and application.

What About Evil by Scott Christensen

What About Evil by Scott Christensen

The Church is blessed with a brand-new resource on the problem of evil. This subject has been heavily debated for two-thousand years. It is a subject that many evangelists fear. A seeming lack of an answer is often used as an intellectual argument against the...


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.