The climax of the classic movie, Gone With the Wind, shows Rhett Butler leaving Scarlett O’Hara, presumably for good. After momentarily breaking down at this development, Scarlett then resolves to return to her home, Tara, and to start again. She also exclaims that she will find a way to win Rhett back. Her final words, which imbue her with hope, are, “After all, tomorrow is another day!”
This phrase apparently did not originate with Margaret Mitchell, the author of Gone With the Wind, but her use of it certainly cemented it into American culture. Part of the inherent optimism of Americans is that whatever may have happened today, tomorrow is another day. We presume that the new day will bring with it new opportunities to succeed in whatever we may have failed today. In this application it is a worthy attitude. We need not accept momentary defeat. We can try again tomorrow.
Christians often appropriate secular ideas or attitudes and apply them to their walk of faith. “Tomorrow is another day” is certainly among them. A major tenet of our faith is that what happens today need not be the final word on one’s life. Part of the grace of God is that forgiveness and renewal are always at hand, if we seek them from Him. Great men such as King David, and Paul the apostle aptly illustrate this truth. When David sinned with Bathsheba and then arranged for her husband to be killed in battle, he sank to the depths of sin. Psa. 51 is his admission of guilt and his plea with God for restoration. This restoration is attested by the fact that David is still called “a man after God’s own heart” when Paul used this phrase to describe him in Acts 13:22. David absolutely took advantage of his new day.
Paul also demonstrates the validity of the “tomorrow is another day” principle. When he was Saul of Tarsus, he was zealous for God to the point of persecuting the church more than any others of his contemporaries. If this were the end of his story, it would be a tragedy, but God had other plans for Saul. After meeting the Lord on the road to Damascus, Saul went into the city and the preacher Ananias told him that God had chosen him to be His instrument in preaching the gospel. He then told Saul, “Now why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name” (Acts 22:16). The rest of Saul’s life was spent in God’s service as Paul the apostle. We today owe much of our New Testament content to the pen of this great apostle. Tomorrow was another day for Saul of Tarsus, as Paul the apostle’s life would readily attest.
There is another aspect to this concept, however, that bears consideration. My dear wife likes to express it this way: “After all, tomorrow is another day. But if it isn’t, then I won’t have to worry about it!” The power of that statement captures both the grace and redemption offered by God’s love, as well as the confidence of a true child of God. It alludes both to the opportunity to try again when we’ve come up short, and to the fact that our lives are, as James said, “A vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away” (Jas. 4:14).
The truth is that we are not guaranteed “another day”. We have this day. We may have another one tomorrow, or we may have hundreds more for many years. But, we also may not have another tomorrow. James’ words remind us that life is fragile and it may pass away at any moment. As much as we might wish for it, we may not have an opportunity to do better tomorrow than we did today. In addition to this, the Lord warned that one day He will return for judgment, but no one knows when that will be (Mt. 24:36). Because of this, He warned that we must be ready at all times (Mt. 24:44).
So what should we take from these truths? First, we must not put off our obedience to the Lord’s commands. Ananias told Saul to get up and be baptized and wash away his sins (Acts 22:16). Saul immediately did so. He did not wait for “another day”. Had he waited, he might not have had another opportunity to be saved. We must not put off getting right with God by obedience to the gospel. We must not put off doing the best we can do in His service. After all, tomorrow death or the Lord may come, and in either case, we will have no more “tomorrows”.
Those who have obeyed the gospel and who are walking in the light (1 Jn. 1:7-9) have the confidence of my wife’s expression. Those who belong to the Lord by the blood of His Son can face today and tomorrow without fear. If tomorrow is another day, they will use it fully in the Lord’s service and to His glory. If it is not, then they will rejoice either in Paradise or at the return of their Savior. If we live with this perspective, we’ve already won.