Anxiety Does Not Empty Tomorrow of Its Sorrows; It Empties Today of Its Strength

Alexander McLaren? Charles Haddon Spurgeon? Ian Maclaren? Corrie ten Boom?

Dear Quote Investigator: Excessive fear and worry about the future can weaken the resolve needed to thrive. Here are three versions of a pertinent saying:

(1) Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows, but only empties today of its strength.

(2) Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its troubles, but it empties it of its strength.

(3) Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow. It empties today of its strength.

The influential English preacher Charles Haddon Spurgeon often receives credit for this remark, but I have not found a solid citation. Would you please explore the origin of this saying?

Quote Investigator: The earliest match located by QI appeared in a sermon by Alexander McLaren who was a Baptist minister based in Manchester, England. The adage occurred in an 1859 collection called “Sermons Preached in Union Chapel, Manchester” within an address titled “Anxious Care”. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1

It is God’s law of Providence that a man shall be disciplined by sorrow; and to try to escape from that law by any forecasting prudence, is utterly hopeless, and madness. And what does your anxiety do? It does not empty to-morrow, brother, of its sorrows; but, ah! it empties to-day of its strength.

It does not make you escape the evil, it makes you unfit to cope with it when it comes. It does not bless to-morrow, and it robs to-day. For every day has its own burden. We have always strength to bear the evil when it comes. We have not strength to bear the foreboding of it.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Anxiety Does Not Empty Tomorrow of Its Sorrows; It Empties Today of Its Strength


  1. 1859, Sermons Preached in Union Chapel, Manchester by Alexander McLaren, Sermon 21: Anxious Care, Start Page 276, Quote Page 288, Dunnill, Palmer, and Company, Manchester, England. (Google Books Full View) link

Be Kind; Everyone You Meet is Fighting a Hard Battle

Plato? Philo of Alexandria? Ian MacLaren? John Watson?

This blog post is based on a question that was posed at the wonderful blog used by the quotation expert Fred Shapiro who is the editor of one of the best reference works in this area: The Yale Book of Quotations. Fred Shapiro’s posts appear on the Freakonomics blog.

Question: This question is from Glossolalia Black.

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.

It is attributed to Plato on this little thing I have up in my office, but I was told by a friend that it wasn’t him.

Fred Shapiro replied “this sounds anachronistic for Plato by almost 2500 years” and then invited readers to attempt to trace the quotation.

Quote Investigator: The websites ThinkExist, Quotations Page, and Brainy Quote do have this quotation listed under the august name of Plato.

Philo of Alexandria is another popular choice when assigning attribution, e.g., QuotationsBook credits Philo. Sometimes Anonymous gets the nod. QI was able to trace the saying back more than one-hundred years to its likely origin. The original aphorism did not use the word “kind”. Instead, another surprising word was used.

Continue reading Be Kind; Everyone You Meet is Fighting a Hard Battle