"Say not, "Why were the former days better than these?" For it is not from wisdom that you ask this."
Do you ever get nostalgic? Do you ever wish you lived in another era or year? Do you ever wish for the 'good old days'? I know I do once in awhile. I often think I would have liked to live in the England during the 1800's. The days of Charles Spurgeon and JC Ryle. The days of the horse drawn carriage, Sherlock Holmes, and the British Empire. But Solomon warns us that thinking it was better in times past is foolish. This is a good warning for us as we do this frequently, especially in hard times. This kind of thinking is the sin of discontent. Discontent comes easy to our sinful hearts. Let us look at a few reason why this nostalgia is unwise.
The 'good old days' had their problems too. Sometimes they were the same problems, because people don't change, or they were different problems that we can be thankful we don't have to deal with. Human nature is the same in all generations. We are sinful from birth and that hasn't changed. In times past people committed the same sins we commit. There was injustice, anger, lying, pride, sexual immorality, and envy back then too. Often when we look back on the past we tend to overlook the difficulties and focus on the good things we long for. Our memories are selective, which produces a distorted past. So longing to escape to the past is foolish because we will find that we will still be living in a sinful world.
Leaving for the past may be leaving some of the good thing we enjoy now. If we could escape to another time, we would find that we long for the comforts and benefits that we enjoy now. We enjoy many good gifts right now, that were not there in years gone by. Think about life without our favorite foods, email, cars, heated houses, health care, or cell phones. When we think about what good things we enjoy now that were not enjoyed in the past, then we can see that wishing to go back in time is not so attractive.
The best reason why nostalgia is foolish is that God is wise and sovereign. He has placed us in this time and this place for a reason. God is good and wise and so everything He does must be good and wise. He knows what is best for us. Whatever time or situation we find ourselves in, is for our good. Even in persecution and great trials, we can't wish for the days of yesterday. God has a good reason for us to be here. Not only will it be for our good, but for the good of others. Like Esther, we are placed where we are 'for such a time as this.' We need to trust the wisdom and goodness of God and use our lives to bring glory to God in this time.
As we head into a new year, we can be fearful of what may happen. The old days may seem more attractive. We may look back one year, 5 years, 50 years, or 100 years, and wish we were living in those days rather than heading into a new year. This new year may be worse than the last year. But we know that our God is the same. He won't change in this year. He will still be with us in this year. He is still in control of all things this year as well as last year. His plan and purpose will continue on this year as well despite the sin and anger of men. His promises to us are the same. Since our God is unchanging, we can go into the new year with confidence in our Lord.
In fact, We should be excited as we go into a new year. God is going to display His glory in this year. We are going to see God's works in the world and church. God's kingdom is going to advance. Sinners will be converted this year. Jesus may come back this year. We are getting closer to heaven. God will continue to mold us into the image of Jesus Christ. We are closer to seeing the new heaven and the new earth. Soon this old body with the sinful flesh will be gone and we will be glorified.
Wishing for the 'good old days' is foolish. Living here and now by faith in the eternal, unchanging God is wise. "This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it." Psalm 118:24