John Newton (1725-1807), author of “Amazing Grace,” wrote: “We may easily manage if we will only take, each day, the burden appointed for it. But the load will ... be too heavy for us, if we carry yesterday's burden over again today, and then add tomorrow’s.” This maxim might be easy to dismiss unless we knew about Newton’s troubled life.
Having been pressed into naval service and then slavery, Newton was finally rescued but became a slave-ship captain. He faced abuse, contemplated murder-suicide, suffered a stroke and was caught in a storm. When he cried out to God, the waves subsided, prompting a spiritual conversion for Newton, who became a priest and abolitionist.
We never know how God will transform our sinful past into future good, but we can trust he will. That adds power to Newton’s advice, which echoes Jesus’ words: “Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matthew 6:34, ESV).