Therefore, do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day.

Matthew 6:34

We all feel overwhelmed at times. It might be the amount of work on our plate. It might be a worry for the future. It might be something outside of our own lives, like the general state of the world. And when a few of these things converge on us at the same time, it can be overwhelming.

One of the things I work at is boiling down life to the shortest increment of time. That might be a day, it might be an hour, it might even be one moment. And then focusing on being present in that moment. One of my greatest challenges actually is staying present during our worship services. For instance, if it is a weekday morning Divine Liturgy, instead of coming into the office and going right to work on my always big to do list, I first celebrate the Divine Liturgy and then get to the office around 11:15 a.m., or about three hours later than I usually get in. Which puts me three hours “behind” on work I would have done had we not had the Divine Liturgy. There are certain days on which we celebrate the Divine Liturgy—sometimes there are two or three during a five-day work week. Work doesn’t lessen just because there are services. There have been times when I would have my body in front of the altar but my mind in my office and what would happen is that none of the work would get done, and no worshipping would happen either. It would just be an unsatisfying mechanical “doing” rather than “celebrating” the Divine Liturgy. The solution to this dilemma is a decision to just focus on the one thing at hand, celebrating the service, to have both my body and mind present, to surrender the thought of getting “work” done and just worship. The work will get done later. I’ve found two things happen when I do this. I get more out of worship. And I actually get the work done afterwards more efficiently. Because I have had joy not only in worship, but in the fact that I was able to focus and don’t have residual guilt about standing at the altar without focus.

I think the world over-glorifies the concept of multi-tasking. Can I pull weeds and talk on the phone at the same time? Yes, if it’s just a casual conversation. If it a serious conversation, however, that deserves all of my attention. We know that texting and driving is a very bad idea. What about texting while sitting with a friend and talking? That’s actually rude. I try to work on being single-focused whenever possible.

As for the worries of today versus the worries of the future, the truth is that many of the things we worry about today might not actually happen in the future, so we worry for nothing. And even the setbacks of today, many of them will not matter in the future. If I worry today that I won’t have enough money to retire on, that is an unworthy stressor for today. Because a) I might not live until retirement; b) I might have enough money to retire on; and c) I’m not retiring for a long time. The worries of what may or may not happen years from now should distract me from the opportunities that are sitting right in front of me. If there is a setback today, let’s say that it rains and I don’t get to mow the lawn, or it rains and only a few people come to church for the service tonight, these shouldn’t be a cause of great stress either because they won’t matter in a week and in a year, I won’t even remember them.

Jesus says in Matthew 6:34, “Therefore, do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day.”  This is one of my favorite verses of Scripture, because it reminds us to be focused on today. If you are in a bad streak in life, get a win today. If you are trying to break a bad habit, focus on not doing it today. If you are overwhelmed with work, get the most out of today. If you have a problem that can’t be solved, focus on managing it today. And if things seem like they are crashing in on you, because there are too many and it seems like there won’t be enough time, don’t spend time fretting about the amount of things you need to get done, focus on doing one thing, being present in one task and get one task done and then do the same with the next task.

When you are with someone, be “with” them, so that they feel like they are the only important thing in your world, even if your world has a lot going on in it. Jesus had this almost laser-like focus, because He could always find the person in the crowd who needed Him, just spotting Zacchaeus in the tree on the crowded street in Jerusalem. (Luke 19:1-10) Remember that many of the things we worry about today will take care of themselves, whether we worry or not. And as for the things beyond our control, they are going to happen whether we worry or not.

I cried aloud and shouted with all my heart unto the tender-loving God, and He heard my voice from the lowest depths of Hades, and He raised my life from the pit of corruption.
Have mercy on me, O God. Have mercy on me.
I offer to You in purity, O Savior, the tears of my eyes and groanings from the depths of my heart, crying: “I have sinned against You, O God; be merciful to me.”
(Canon of St. Andrew of Crete, Ode Six, Trans. by Fr. Seraphim Dedes)

Focus on being present today, which means concentrating on what is right in front of you, and not being overly concerned with the things that aren’t in front of you at the present moment. Let the worries of the moment be sufficient for the moment.


Fr. Stavros Akrotirianakis

Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis is the Proistamenos of St. John Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL. Fr. contributes the Prayer Team Ministry, a daily reflection, which began in February 2015. The Prayer Team now has its own dedicated website! Fr. Stavros has produced multiple books, you can view here:


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