After reading chapters 6 & 7 of Ecclesiastes, this is what stood out for me:
“Say not, ‘Why were the former days better than these?’ For it is not from wisdom that you ask this.” Ecclesiastes 7:10”
It seems that I hear many people my age bemoaning the present, and longing for the past. Things were better then; people were more courteous; more people went to church; children were not so spoiled, and so on. Some of these things may be true, but bad things are always going on (I talked about this in a previous post– Hoping for Something New?. It also depends upon your particular situation and perspective. For example, somebody recently who is a bit older than I am said she grew up in the best of times — however, if you were a person of color during that era, you probably wouldn’t look back on those days so fondly. Jim Crow laws, segregation, and discrimination were widespread.
God calls us to look forward, not back. When He punished His Old Testament people by exiling them to Babylon, they were told by the prophet Jeremiah:
“Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” Jeremiah 29:5-7
In other words, make the best of things in the place and time where God has placed you. He has work for you to do. Stop complaining and concentrate on being a blessing to others.
In the New Testament Paul echoes the same sentiment:
“Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14
Yearning for the good old days is not helpful or God-pleasing. It is not wise. It is not even realistic! Instead look forward to the future God has prepared for you.
For more posts about the book of Ecclesiastes see: