Were the “good old days” really better?

Good morning everyone,
Our theme for this month: “How to inhabit time”
Our Bible verse for today: “Don’t say, “Why were the former days better than these?” since it is not wise of you to ask this.” Ecclesiastes 7:10 (CSB)
Our thought for today: “Were the “good old days” really better?”
You may remember the scene found in chapter eleven of the Old Testament book of Numbers. The Israelites were wandering in the wilderness, being fed by the manna from heaven (a sweet bread that tasted like honey and was provided for them daily by God). But they quickly tired of it and actually began complaining about it. Soon they were reminiscing about “the good old days” in Egypt. You know, when they were slaves and working under forced labor. Only now, in their memories, those were the days when they were safe and secure, well fed and fully employed. To hear them tell it now, in the good old days in Egypt they had meat, fish, cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic. But now all they had was this lousy bread from God.
Was the past really better than the present? For those ancient Israelites the answer was obviously “No!” They had grossly romanticized in their memories what had actually been a horrible situation in reality. But don’t we all do that? Don’t we tend to remember the past better than it really was, especially compared to the unpleasantries and challenges that we might be contending with in the present?
Soren Kierkegaard was a Danish theologian, philosopher, poet, and Christian author. He was also a student of human nature. He once observed that, “It is perfectly true, as philosophers say, that life must be understood backwards. But they forget the other proposition, that it must be lived forwards.”
In other words, we do need to remember the past (accurately), so we can learn from it. But life needs to be lived going forward. We shouldn’t dwell in the past, and we must also be careful not to overly romanticize it. There were good times in the past, to be sure, but there were bad times too. There were trials and tribulations and pain and sorrow back then too, just as there is today. 
Was the past really that much better than the present? If we have the habit of always romanticizing the past at the expense of the present then yesterday, last year, last decade, will always have been better than today. But this pattern of thinking means that when we get to the future we will always look back and conclude that the past was better. Where then is hope? Evidently (in this pattern of thinking) the romanticized past was always better that the present, and that means that everything just gets worse as time goes by.
Life is life, regardless. There’s always both good and bad. Please, don’t dwell in an overly romanticized past that almost certainly wasn’t as good as you’re remembering it now. Instead, learn from the bad, celebrate the good, live fully today, and move forward into the future.  
God bless,
Pastor Jim  
Copyright © 2023 Oak Hill Baptist Church, All rights reserved.

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