Ever heard anyone talk about ‘The Good Old Days’? It is easy to live in the past… but it’s easier to die there. The future is full of variables we cannot control. Strangely, the past is predictable, at least in our mind. We can visit whenever we want and know that the outcome is already established. Nevermind that we can still manipulate it over time. Or is it manipulating us? Memory is a strange thing. Sometimes it is solid, but it is often suspect. How many times have you remembered something only to be corrected by people who recall it more correctly?
This illusion of time travel through memory can be comforting, but it can also be confusing and even catastrophic. Just as we can misremember things that did or did not happen, we can also put our faith in those experiences. Spending time in the past changes us. And while the past is a part of us, it is not the most important part of us. As Christians we are grateful for this.
The Bible says, “Do not say, ‘Why were the former days better than these?’ For you do not inquire wisely concerning this.” (Ecclesiastes 7:10)
But we did have great days in the past, right? My grandparents grew up in a culture that was more Christian-driven and less evil than the one today. People didn't used to go on killing sprees like they do today. Children were respectful. Marriages lasted longer. What’s wrong with wishing for the good old days? Well, there is nothing wrong with remembering good times. The Bible tells us to celebrate good days. The problem comes when we put our faith in former times and curse the current day. Know this… The same God who made those good old days, is the One who made today.
An oriental proverb says, “Many say, This is a corrupt age. This mode of speaking is not just, it is not the age that is corrupt, but the men of the age.”
John Wesley provided this commentary on the question, "Why were the former days better than these?"... "This is an argument of a mind unthankful for the many mercies, which men enjoy even in evil times." Think about that. As we waste time wishing for former days, we miss the mercies of God that are new every morning.
Matthew Henry says, "It is folly to complain of the badness of our own times when we have more reason to complain of the badness of our own hearts (if men's hearts were better, the times would mend)."
Certainly sin continues to decay our world and culture. But if there's one thing we know as believers, it is that our circumstances in a fallen world does not determine our current standing with God or our eternal destination. In fact, God is not done.
When we ask why certain days are better than others, it can become an accusation against the God who makes every day. When we ask why the past is better than the present, God may fairly give us a mirror and say, “There’s your answer.” Instead, He reminds us that He is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and has great plans to give us a future.
As we begin a new year, remember Who created every day in it. “This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24)
[Bible quotes are from the Holman Christian Standard Bible, unless otherwise noted.]
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