Nostalgia of the Past

by Frank Jones


Say not thou, What is the cause that the former days were better than these? for thou dost not enquire wisely concerning this. (Ecclesiastes 7:10)

A grave snare exists for the believer. He can become entrapped in the nostalgia of the past or the anxiety of the future. Our thoughts can become captured to the "unknown" and "what has not occurred." What shall we eat and drink tomorrow? What are we to wear next week? What does the future hold? What is our service to Christ going to be next year? What if ... ? Our Lord addresses these concerns by pointing us to our present need. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you (Matthew 6:33). Shun evil and seek those things that are above is the rule of each day.

The other danger is nostalgia. When we spend our time seeking to discover the cause that former days (Ecclesiastes 7:10) being better than today, we cripple our service to God in the present and show our foolishness. Is it not true that we see the past through colored lenses?

... as befits an answer to nostalgia, which is an enervating and self-indulgent mood. To sigh for ‘the good old days’ is (we may reflect) doubly unrealistic: a substitute not only for action but for proper thought, since it almost invariably overlooks the evils that took a different form or vexed a different section of society in other times. (Kidner, The Message of Ecclesiastes, 67).

It has been often said that "the good old days" are the combination of a bad memory and a good imagination, and often this is true. ... The Victorian essayist Hilaire Belloc wrote, "While you are dreaming of the future or regretting the past, the present, which is all you have, slips from you and is gone." (Wiersbe, Be Satisfied, 88)

Whether it be the days gone by "of prosperity or ministerial success" or the anxiety of the "unknown future," let us lay them aside for the prize of Christ. Serve the Lord today and permit His providence to care for tomorrow. Forget those things that are behind and reach those without Christ this day. Do good in Christ and the One on Whom we cast all our care will care for us.