he Folly of Looking Back
Don’t say, “Why were things better in the good old days?” It isn’t wise to ask that kind of question.
Ecclesiastes 7:10, NIRV
There are many different points in my life when I’ve found myself taking stock of my life, achievements and happiness, and I’ve been unsure if all the work has really been worth it. I’m guessing you’ve been there too at times, maybe a rough point in a marriage, a moment of comparing your life with others, willing your children to be babies again (or at least not teenagers!) or looking wistfully back at the joys of unhindered international travel. It’s natural to have moments in life where our impulse is to hark back to another time.
At face value, the Book of Ecclesiastes is not the most uplifting of scriptures: it’s where we find the repeated refrain “everything is meaningless” scattered liberally through its pages. Yet if we dig a little deeper and listen to the writer in his bleakness, we can find profound wisdom and I have found the verse above to be one of many such examples.
When we remember another time with nostalgia, we end up robbing the present of its beauty. I firmly believe that God has made everything beautiful in its time and when we look back, we often remember those things that were most lovely or inspirational and forget the slog that accompanied them.
It’s a superficial example, but think of when you’ve prepared for a large dinner party–something I love to do. (If you don’t like dinner parties, maybe think about the work that goes into getting Thanksgiving dinner ready!) Normally there comes a point when you’re behind schedule, there’s no time to dress, you have three last-minute additions and it does not seem like such a great day! However, at 10 p.m. when people are still laughing and drinking around the table, those hours of stressful labor are forgotten.
When you find yourself hankering for ‘the good old days,’ remember that no matter how trying they feel, these days
are those days. You have the power of the Holy Spirit within you to make them into something. Then at some point, no matter what you’re facing today, you will be able to look back and see God was indeed at work. And there is a beauty to behold, even in times of brokenness.
Let us pray:
Heavenly Father, open my eyes to see You at work in my life today, fill me with Your Spirit to help me to look forward, give me hope where hope is failing. Amen.