“See you tomorrow!” “Have a good weekend; see you on Monday!” How many times have you said or heard those words said to someone? For some of us, we often say these statements without thinking about them. They are a part of our social interactions. Yet there is something presumptuous about them. They assume that there will be a tomorrow; that we will live through the weekend to see another Monday. That assumption is easy to make. After all, we have seen many “tomorrows” and “Mondays” throughout our lives so far. It is easy to take it for granted.
Not surprisingly, the Bible has something to say about this presumption. In his letter to the early church community, which included merchants who traded from city to city, James writes, “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit;’ whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.’ But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.” (James 4:13-16, NKJV). The boasting referred to is the reliance on self and the implication that one can live independently of God; boastings of the continuance of life and our ability to go about our business doing the things we want to do without due regard for the uncertainties of life.
However, James mentions that such a position is evil and reminds us that human life is like a vapor, a mist we see in the morning that expires almost as soon as it exists with the rising sun. The Chronicles writer observes that “our days on earth are as a shadow” (1 Chronicles 29:15), and Job affirms, “Man who is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble. He comes forth like a flower and fades away; he flees like a shadow and does not continue” (Job 14:1-2). Interestingly, life is mentioned in terms of days and not years. In other words, it really is that short in the big scheme of things.
Life is like a vapor. That brevity is worth remembering amid the hustle and bustle of our daily lives. Tomorrow is not guaranteed to any of us, no matter how many “tomorrows” we have experienced so far. Next time we are tempted to say, “See you tomorrow,” or we start making plans for tomorrow, let us train our minds to follow James’ advice: “Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.'” Wise words, indeed.