One Day At A Time

At the beginning of this trial, so many people, mostly long-time Christians, would advise me to “Just take one day at a time.” I’m sure that every one of these wise people thought they were the first to give me this sage advice. Of course, I always acted as if they were the first to give me that advice and I politely thanked them. (If you are one of those that offered me this advice 16+ years ago, I’m sorry I didn’t tell you that a hundred people already gave me that same advice).

To be honest, even though a hundred people repeated this “Take one day at a time” cliché to me, I really didn’t understand at that time exactly what it meant. Like so many clichés, I think people throw them out to fill dead air space in awkward moments when they have nothing else to say. But, I now know this advice is much more than a wise-sounding cliché and the title of an old Southern Gospel song;  I discovered it’s also a Biblical principle.

Let me explain how I came to this conclusion.

The Christian going through a trial will quickly figure out something they wish that they’d known all along—today is all that we can properly manage or were meant to manage. Agonizing over our yesterdays and worrying about our tomorrows is just too great of a burden to carry; it will literally overwhelm us emotionally, spiritually and even physically.


In chapter sixteen of the book of Exodus, while in the wilderness (a Biblical metaphor of a trial), God fed the children of Israel with Manna. Jesus said that Manna was “bread that came down out of heaven.” This bread had a very short expiration date; it was only good for that day. If you attempted to put it in a Ziploc bag to save it for the following day, as some tried to do, it would spoil and you’d find maggots crawling on it. God was trying to teach them to trust Him only for today—yesterday’s “bread” is useless (unless you like maggot protein) and tomorrow’s bread hasn’t yet been delivered.

“Give us this day our daily bread.” (Matthew 6:11)

The Old Testament uses “types and shadows” of things to come when the Messiah arrived. As Jesus said; “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.” (Matthew 5:17)

Manna was a type and shadow of Jesus; He’s our daily bread—our spiritual sustenance; “I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died…I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.” (John 6:48-51)

In a very real sense, the life of faith in Christ is only about today; we’re told to forget about yesterday and not to worry about tomorrow:

“…one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14)  

[Between these two passages is a day we call “today.”]

“So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:34)

I believe that we should do everything within our power to resolve our past (asking God and those we’ve wronged for forgiveness, paying our debts, etc.) and to plan for our future. But I don’t believe that God designed us to carry guilt from our past or to worry about our futures. Christ suffered and died to offer us forgiveness of our past and to secure our eternal futures in heaven. Knowing this puts our earthly troubles in perspective. We can live in peace, joy and hope one day at a time because: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8)

This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. (Like Manna) They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:21-23)

About Bill Sweeney

In 1996, Bill was diagnosed with ALS (“Lou Gehrig’s Disease”) and the doctors told him he had 3-5 years to live. He is now completely paralyzed and unable to speak, but by God’s grace, he’s still alive and through his blog shares a message of hope in Christ - Unshakable Hope!

Posted on July 29, 2013, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 153 Comments.

  1. AM BLESSED,and i will live oneday at a time.

  2. Your posts are always a blessing. Thank you!

  3. So wonderful to see the impact you’re having on so many people, Bill. I love your example of trust and perseverance, your sound advice and Scripture support. The manna analogy is perfect.

    The Israelites had to rely on God every day for their physical needs. We need to rely on Him every day for our emotional and spiritual needs even if our physical needs are being taken care of. Even if someone were to have a great life, they would still need to rely on God to live holy lives. And of course, those great lives don’t usually go on forever.

    Those “opportunities” to rely on Him are not always pleasant, but He always makes it worth it. Joy comes in the morning! Wishing you great joy, Bill, in the midst of your struggles.

  4. Hi Bill, You know how you know something so well, you are startled when you hear it anew? I needed to be reminded by someone that copes with loss with hope. We can ONLY do it one day at a time. . .because each day I’ve spent all I had in prayers, presence and leaning on His promises. Thank you for sharing! twe

  5. Thank you so much for your perspective … a glimmer of hope and practical advice to take life one small bite at a time … 🙂 Blessings!

  6. Hey Bill,
    Just checking in… Making sure you are okay?
    Haven’t read one of your amazing posts lately. So was just making sure all was well. Praying for you every day!
    Have a beautiful day and may God touch your life today in some wonderful way!

    • Hi Diane. It’s good to hear from you. Just before I opened your message, I read two of your recent posts. I am so behind on reading the blogs I follow; trying to play catch-up today. I don’t know how busy people like you keep up with your blogs. You must post and reply to comments while you’re stopped in freeway traffic.

  7. Just stopped back in to see if you had posted anything new. Each time I check, I read this, and it blesses me. This time, I thought I would say hello. “Hello!”….You are in my prayers today. I hope you are well. Skye 🙂

  8. After reading this post again it has new meaning. This time I read it coming from my Auntie’s funeral, and it is important for everything in life, not just sadness, to take it one step at a time.

  9. I love this. Love that you used the Old Testament to make your point. Such depth and such treasure in the Old Testament, too often ignored.

  10. I can’t help but think that at least a few of those people who told you that 16 years ago, were actually living it, understood it deeply by the experience of clinging to the living God, one day at a time, just as you have come to understand it. To them also, it is not a cliche. There are times when that Southern Gospel song means a lot to me. Another one is “Moment by Moment.”

    • I think you are right, Cindy; Many of the people that advised me to take one day at a time did understand it was more than a cliche. I now think in terms of living for today every morning when I first wake up.

  11. Wonderful explanation of the time-worn cliche! You’ve captured exactly all that “One Day at a Time” embodies!


  12. I never thought of it this way, that Jesus was the manna. I guess it is so obvious, but I never got it until this very moment. Thank you Bill. You made my day.

  13. Powerful post! God certainly is using you to teach others. Taking things one day at a time is something we have all heard and said many times. I love the Biblical perspective you have shared on this cliche. May you continue to inspire and encourage others in their faith journey!

  14. ” I don’t believe that God designed us to carry guilt from our past or to worry about our futures.” That says it all. Great post…

  15. Thank you for sharing this 🙂 I take one moment at a time, the day is long and taking one day at a time is something I work towards, I just try get through each activity I do because it’s so challenging in my condition. I know you can relate and understand, so I am thankful that I have a friend like you 🙂

  16. Let us remember that Lamentations piece…mercies new every morning, and undeserved too. Oh He is all righteousness, but let us remember that He is all Father too, and our Elder Brother constantly goes to bat for us.

  17. Good words ~ great post! Our sustenance is in His hands and not in “Ziploc bags” of worry. Thank you, Bill, for blessing us with the wisdom God has given you to share.

  18. Good word, Bill. So many people confess to worrying all the time, about everything. Set them free, Lord Jesus.

  19. I wanted to push the “like” button about 20 times, Bill.
    Forgiving myself is exactly what I’m struggling with right now.
    Thank you so much for this post, it’s really what I needed today.

    • Thank you so much, Denise. I too have struggled with forgiving myself for things I wish I hadn’t done and for the things I wish I had done. But I looked really hard for verses about forgiving ourselves, but couldn’t find any. It may help you (as it has me) to realize it’s not about forgiving ourselves, it’s about accepting God’s forgiveness. This revelation has helped me so much in putting my past behind me. Imagine someone you’ve genuinely forgiven for a wrong they committed against you repeatedly begging you for forgiveness and then walking away with his head down. We would rightly think he didn’t believe our forgiveness was genuine and we would be hurt and annoyed. But if that person thanked us for forgiving him from time-to-time, it would tell us he was grateful and truly repentant.
      When you feel guilt and regret, just thank God for forgiveness and for putting your yesterdays behind you where they belong!
      “So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:36)

      • Thanks so much for that, Bill…I was actually thinking along those lines last night while mulling over your post. I asked God to please help me accept His forgiveness because I don’t seem to be able to on my own.
        Your explanation goes even deeper than where I did and I think it will be invaluable.
        I truly appreciate this so much!

        • Thanks, Denise. I’ve made a habit of using the feelings of guilt and regret to be a “trigger” to pause and thank God for forgiving me (of whatever I’m feeling guilt over). Some people believe outside (spiritual) influences are reminding us of our past to make us feel unworthy, others say it’s our old (carnal) nature. Regardless, neither of these like being used as a trigger for giving thanks to the One who gave us a new nature. You’ll find, as I have, that your feelings of guilt and regret will gradually decrease through this thanks-giving.

  20. Lauren Mulvey

    James and I separately said this was our favorite post from you so far! I love how God uses the old testament to speak to us so profoundly! I love you, Daddy!

  21. blessings to you and yours, and once again thank you for your ministry of Love

  22. Well said, Bill, and a good reminder. Thanks for reading and liking my blog this week. May God continue to hold you in His loving arms as you serve Him. I thank my God for you. Connie

  23. I needed to hear this nugget of good advice it is a balm to a very heavy heart God Bless!

  24. Once again you have given me much to think about. This is lovely and I appreciate your wisdom. The passages are so helpful too. I am excited to share this with Jim.

  25. I absolutely love your blog. You are a blessing.

  26. “One day at a time” biblical truth is challenging to flesh out, isn’t it? It sounds so easy but to rest in God’s sovereign hand as each day unfolds is a real testament to one’s full trust in God. Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down (Proverbs 12.25) and strips him of living each day abundantly. Thank you for the reminder to take a deep breath when I wake up, welcome Jesus in my day and live fully. I am always blessed when Unshakable Hope pops in my email box!

  27. Bill, you are such an extraordinary blessing to so many of us. Thanks for being you, for sharing and for connecting with us all. ♥

  28. You are a blessing in my life, Bill. Thank you!

  29. Reblogged this on Richard's Watch and commented:
    Thank you so much for this encouraging personal insight Bill. It was our motto during disability too. So our repeating it to suffering brethren comes with not only our firm assurance from adversity but also Jesus’ promise to never leave or forsake us. May He favour you immensely.

  30. As always Bill, an inspiring and uplifting post, thank you. As I read this, the tune from ‘One day at a time, sweet Jesus’ got me humming! Also, the scripture you shared at the end of your post has been impressed on my heart for many days now, so reading it here today has really encouraged me. Being able to grasp what we have today and not worry about tomorrow is so important…I’m really working on this, with God’s help, as I find this a major stumbling block in my walk. This is the day that the Lord has made…may it be a day of blessings for you Bill 🙂

    • Thank you so much, Sherri. “His mercies are new every morning…” is a great passage. As I said, I think you can relate, fretting over what we did or didn’t do yesterday and worrying about tomorrow can literally paralyze us emotionally and spiritually – today is all I can handle.

  31. Wonderful inspiring post Bill. So, so relevant. Thank you.

  32. Such a beautiful post. But it shows how strong you really are. Most of us don’t face the same trials day after day after day after day like you – at least not to the same extent. I’ve always said the same thing, too. Take one day at a time… By breaking things into little steps, or days, the overall goal becomes easier to achieve, or at least less intimidating. I truly admire you, Bill, and I love the verses you quoted. You are right. Jesus did tell us to live for today, and not to worry about tomorrow. Thank you for this reminder. I am so grateful for you, and for your site.

  33. Discipleship is very draining, isn’t it? I understand the difficulty of taking things one day at a time cannot soothe out the suffering ~ What helps me is to keep the eternal perspective and, know that Heavenly Father is intimately involved in our life.

    • Thank you, Deborah. I suppose, like all disciplines (going to work daily, physical exercise…), discipleship is not effortless, but it does reap rewards – faith, hope, joy… I agree with you that keeping an eternal perspective is essential.

  34. I appreciate your perspective “One Day At A Time” – this is work in progress for me in my journey. Haven’t conquered it quite yet but extremely pleased with my progress. Thank you for such an excellent Blog! Blessings!

  35. I was just thinking today that worry is like a devouring monster that cannot be satisfied. It just consumes one area of our lives then moves to the next if left unchecked by choosing faith demonstrated by works.

  36. Great verses mentioned that go along with this great topic, Bill! It’s wonderful to see so many people adding their thoughts. As we change and face joys and pains along our spiritual journey, I’m so thankful we can depend on an unchanging God who’s love endures forever!

  37. Thank you for writing this. It really lifted my heart.

  38. Very true, Bill. Unfortunately, I still have to work on this more. Thanks for writing this detailed blog on a very much needed subject.

  39. So glad that the trials in this life compare not to the glory on the other side.

  40. I appreciate your perspective that we really need to look at today – not back not forward.
    I just recently spent several days reflecting (again) on
    James 1:2-4
    I am soooo glad that the trials on this rock called “Earth” pales in comparison to the glory filled days in eternity

  41. Dido all of the above.

    God Bless!

  42. You are a good encourager…

  43. I often have to remind myself to take one day at a time. I appreciate your balanced approach in saying, “I believe that we should do everything within our power to resolve our past (asking God and those we’ve wronged for forgiveness, paying our debts, etc.) and to plan for our future. But I don’t believe that God designed us to carry guilt from our past or to worry about our futures.” Thank you, Bill! 🙂

  44. Amazing post. I too, needed to hear this today. Thank you for writing and sharing your life.

  45. How prophetic, I just finished reading that part of Exodus! I’ve been marveling at how the OT perfectly reflects Jesus and foreshadows Him =))

    • We get so much more out of the OT when we read it through a Messianic prism. As Paul said, those reading the OT without understanding the types and shadows of Jesus have a “veil” over their spiritual “eyes and ears” (they cannot fully understand the text) – “…but whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.” (2 Corinthians 3:16)

      • Yes, I really am starting to see how true that is, I have an atheist friend who has read the Bible at least three times, and he laughs at Deuteronomy and Leviticus. He does not see God’s love, even though it is everywhere in the Bible..

        And I have yet to read the Bible once, but I understand many things and have seen many things in the OT.. I understand it on a deeper level than my friend, and he is much smarter and intellectual.

        Things really do get hidden from the wise and God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise.

        • That’s so true. Even Rabbis who can virtually quote the whole OT don’t understand or go to great lengths to explain away obvious Messianic passages like Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53.

          “…I am poured out like water, And all my bones are out of joint; My heart is like wax; It is melted within me. My strength is dried up like a potsherd, And my tongue cleaves to my jaws; And You lay me in the dust of death. For dogs have surrounded me; A band of evildoers has encompassed me; They pierced my hands and my feet. I can count all my bones. They look, they stare at me; They divide my garments among them, And for my clothing they cast lots.” (Psalm 22:14-18)

          “…He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him.” (Isaiah 53:3-6)

  46. You are so right, Bill: “In a very real sense, the life of faith in Christ is only about today; we’re told to forget about yesterday and not to worry about tomorrow.” I think he wants us to make the most of today–praise and thank him for current blessings, pray for those who come to mind, speak or write words of encouragment, listen, hug, do a favor or two, serve up the fruit of the Spirit to everyone we meet, etc. We won’t have time to fret about yesterday or worry about tomorrow! Thank you for ALWAYS sharing an uplifting message that encourages us to walk a little taller in our faith.

  47. I echo the thoughts of the others here today. Thank you for this insightful post. Thank you for your honest example. Thank you for reminding us that God is able to supply all our needs. May I, may all of us, lay our pasts and futures at his feet and appreciate the manna we’ve got today. God bless you, my friend and continue to make you a blessing.

  48. Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days. (Psalm 90:14 NIV)

    I need to pray this verse daily too.

  49. Beautifully said, brother. As for myself, I must live this way, and have for many years now. It’s just the way of God.

  50. Reblogged this on Focused and Free and commented:
    This is wonderfully presented. A good read. Very thoughtful.

  51. You are so right! Yet its hard, as humans, not to worry. But if we try, and take it “day by day” we can, and we will, give it all to God.

    • Amen. “Give all to God” was another thing Christian people would tell me when I was diagnosed – I didn’t really understand that one either at the time:-), but I get it now. That’s a post for another day.

  52. I love that you used the children of Israel and manna.

    It means that He gives us what we need for a day and we need to look to Him for the replenishment. But sometimes we don’t want to do that. And for some of us God doesn’t give us too much because He knows He will only see us again when that ‘runs’ out.

    Good post…have a blessed day my brother 🙂

    • Thank you, JC. You’re right, some of us (me) feel tempted to store-up God’s blessings and take a day or two off from having to rely on Him, but, as Jesus told us, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross DAILY and follow Me.” (Luke 9:23)
      I guess coasting isn’t an option:-)

  53. The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
    What a promise to look forward to every morning!

  54. Wonderful post. thank you! I am soooo glad his mercies are new every morning.
    Blessings to you!

  55. Good morning, I hope you don’t mind, but I “reblogged” this. I haven’t been feeling too well lately (although I know my struggles pale in comparison to yours!), and allowed negative thinking to feed my discouragement. But as usual, your thoughtful and biblical post plucked me out of my pity-party.

  56. Reblogged this on Jennifer Slattery Lives Out Loud and commented:
    This past week, our family went on vacation. We had a wonderful time, but as often seems to be the case, there were numerous days my body chose to rebel. On the drive home, not feeling well, I asked my husband, “Is this how I’m going to feel for the rest of my life?” (Yes, I can be quite melodramatic. 😉 ) Needless to say, such fatalistic thinking did not lead to any improvements. This morning, I received the following blog entry in my email. Thanks, Unshakable Hope for bringing truth into my life today. It’s hard to maintain a pity party when someone dealing with much more difficult circumstances centers their heart and thoughts on Christ. 🙂

  57. Thank you for this most timely reminder. I’m afraid I do tend to worry. Still learning to simply trust and obey.

    • I can relate, Patty! I think it’s natural, especially for people with diseases like ALS, like you and me, to worry about the future – we have to make a conscious effort to fight against that.

  58. I remember when I had a miscarriage…. so many well meaning people said such dumb things. Men who wanted to offer something but had no idea what I was going through… I think about you… unless someone was exactly in your place… how can we every possibly give you advice? I GET that everyone is trying to comfort the other… really just grasping at crumbs. I remember one person saying… “At least he will have one waiting for him in heaven” after I had said… that I don’t think I could do this again… I felt I was too old but I was sad for my husband cuz I already had kids but he didn’t. It was probably the best thing someone could have said to me at that particular moment.

    In meeting you… I have had those moments when I wanted to give you words that would change your day…. give you hope…. One day at a time… hmmm? I guess… but it is funny how it has worked… I send people to your doorstep to get hope. Pretty crazy huh? And yet in my life… I have needed every post you have posted. For some reason you are my Vessel that carries HIS VOICE. Your strength is so much more than the muscles in the flesh…
    And yet everyday I pray that both you and Chris will be part of the miracle of a cure in this lifetime…. I think your victory is in HIM and the journey you allow HIM to take you on… One day at a time!
    Love you friend!

  59. Amen! Thanks and God bless you! 🙂

  60. Beautifully written! Thanks for this wonderful wisdom.

  61. What a great way to start my day, and man, did I ever need it! No maggot protein for this girl!

  62. Bill, I am grateful that God has given you the time and ability to offer us these profound spiritual insights, the fruits of your meditation on the Word of God. The Body of Christ has many members, each busy about many things. Your role in this Body is one of prime importance to the rest. Thank you for accepting His grace and for accepting this ministry for us. God bless!

  63. What a lovely way of interpreting what “One Day at a Time” means. It’s also supported by connected Scriptures, which encourage and inspire the soul. I have been truly blessed! Keep on pressing on, God’s purpose is at work in your life, and He’s not through with you yet. God bless you and family.

  64. Reblogged this on preacherkeith's Blog and commented:
    EXCELLENT post for anyone going through a trial in life or just going through life in general!

  65. panoramicviews

    Thank you for this wonderful post. I really needed to read this today.

  1. Pingback: One Day At A Time | inspiration4generations

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