The Good Old Days?

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:

God Moments in Ecclesiastes

Ecclesiastes 3:3

Two Are Better Than One

More Hope for the Future

When you read the Bible you will find that God’s people can always hope in the future.  At one point the Hebrews were enslaved in Egypt.  God sent Moses and rescued them.  They wandered for forty years in the wilderness, but God brought them to the Promised Land.  They rebelled and were exiled to Babylon, but God brought them back.  They were unable to keep God’s commandments through their own strength, so God sent them a Savior, Jesus.  We celebrate His birth later this month.

Many people are feeling hopeless these days.  The pandemic and the various restrictions it has brought are wearing us down.  Suicide, divorce and spousal abuse are all increasing.  Politicians seem more interested in being celebrities than public servants.  It feels like society is collapsing all around us.

We’ve been studying the book or Jeremiah in our weekday Bible study class.  He was called “the weeping prophet” because he had to bring a message of doom and gloom to people who refused to listen.  He was mistreated and ignored.  Yet through him God says:

“… I know the plans I have for you …. plans to prosper you and not to harm you,  plans to give you hope and a future.”  Jeremiah 29:11

God has not abandoned us; He’s still at work; He has a plan.  We may not understand, but we can put our hope and trust in Him.

“For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”  Romans 15:4

P.S. As I was writing this, my husband told about a survey he came across.  The only group studied whose mental health DID NOT decline this year were those who regularly attend religious services.  Possibly because we have hope?

For more about Jeremiah see these posts:

The Weeping Prophet

God does his best work with empty by Nancy Guthrie–Book Review

Do You Think God Can’t Use You?

 

 

 

Wait Patiently

If we have faith, in times of uncertainty we wait patiently, relying on God’s promises. As the book of Romans tells us:

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”  Romans 12:12

Some things (like the day and hour of the second coming) may still be uncertain when we die.  Other uncertain situations will come to an end.  The uncertainty about our new grandson, Bradley David, was resolved on August 6th, when he made his first appearance.

There is talk of a vaccine for the coronavirus, so we can look forward to a time when masks and social distancing will become a thing of the past.  The questions of when my husband will retire and where we will live will eventually be answered.  The currently jobless will find occupations, babies will learn to sleep through the night, teenagers will become adults and discover their callings and soulmates, and the world will keep spinning.  Sometimes we’ll be disappointed because things don’t work out as we hoped, but many times we’ll be pleasantly surprised to discover that God’s plans are even better than we imagined.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  Jeremiah 29:11

If you’re uncertain, wait patiently.  Hope. Pray.  Remember that God is at work.  Life is uncertain, but He is not.

For more on waiting, see these posts:

Patiently Waiting?

Weak and Waiting

Worth Waiting For

 

 

Stinkin’ Thinkin’

It seems to me that there is a lot of what a friend of mine once called stinkin’ thinkin’ going around these days.  We humans are unfortunately prone to believe what we want to believe whether it’s logical or not.  A young lady I once worked with refused to read a book I suggested  because the scientist who authored it did not accept the theory of evolution.  She said she believed in evolution, and didn’t want to read anything that was contrary to her belief.  Well, okay!  Nothing like closing your mind to other opinions.  I think this kind of reasoning is what’s behind so much of the anger and hate among people today.  We’ve decided that not only are the people we disagree with wrong, they’re BAD.  Only a BAD person would disagree with certain things.  There is no need to consider other opinions because the one we hold is right and all others are bad. The fact of the matter is we’re all BAD and the correct name for that is SINFUL.  But that’s another thing we don’t like to mention these days.  We prefer to say we just make mistakes.

If you’re wondering what got me on this rant — and I admit, it is something of a rant– here it is.  My daughter, who recently had a baby, has been telling me about some of the “dos and don’ts” of pregnancy and young motherhood.  She says, no pregnant lady these days would dare to be seen in public with a cigarette or a glass of wine;  she would be surely censured for not caring about her unborn child.  People she doesn’t know well have come to her and said, “You’d better be breastfeeding!  It’s what’s best for the baby!”  A clerk in the baby store told her, “Don’t use a crib that’s been passed on to you — those things are dangerous and have been recalled!”  Now some or most of things are correct, however here’s my question …. why does a nation that allows abortion practically up until the moment of birth care so much?  If you can abort your child, why does it matter if you smoke, drink, bottle feed or use unsafe equipment?  Isn’t that also the mother’s choice?  Why is an unborn child, or a newborn for that matter, worthy to be protected so vigorously if you want it, and destroyed if you don’t?  What kind of illogical stinkin’ thinkin’ is this?  If anybody can explain it to me, please do.

All Photos

I don’t think people who are pro-abortion are bad, but I think they’re misguided. They’ve been convinced that in order to be “politically correct” they should be okay with abortion. After all, women deserve to have “control of their own bodies.”  I think they’ve closed their mind and denied a reality they don’t want to look at. I know that many women have abortions because it is the easiest thing to do;  they may be afraid, alone or desperate and abortion fixes the immediate problem.  I sympathize with their plight; but we need to help  them to make a good choice instead of encouraging them to opt for an easy way out. We all need to examine our opinions carefully instead of blindly accepting the dictates of our culture. Rant over.  Get rid of that stinkin’ thinkin’.

The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? Jeremiah 17:9

 

Hello Hailey!!!

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart…” Jeremiah 1:5a

The birth of our second granddaughter, Hailey has been scheduled for today.  So far, Kate’s pregnancy has been completely normal, and I’m trusting that mother and baby will do just fine.  I’m understandably excited, and part of that excitement is the anticipation of getting to know a whole new person…. someone who is part of me, and of my entire family.  Will she be tall like her cousin, Katelyn?  Will she have a dimple like her mother?  Will she love to read, as I do, or will she prefer to play golf (like her dad)?  Will she be a girly-girl or a tomboy?  Will she grow up to be a teacher, or a writer, or a real estate agent?  All these things are still mine to discover.  Right now, Hailey is a blank slate to me, brand new to my world.

However, Hailey is not new to God.  He knows her already, every speck of her, down to the smallest cell.  Before Hailey existed God already had a plan for her.  There are things she needs to do for Him, things that will affect not only her family, but the entire family of God.  How awesome is that?

Sometimes, as parents (and grandparents) we forget that ultimately our child belongs to God.  We think that we can shape our descendants and mold them into the people we hope they will be.  Too often, it is our own image we want to see in them, not God’s.  So my prayer for Hailey this morning is that she will just be Hailey … the Hailey God  already created and already knows– the person who fits perfectly into His plans. That will be good enough for me.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well”  Psalm 139:14

P.S.  Will post a picture of the new arrival as soon as I get one.

Weak and Waiting

“Is there no balm in Gilead?  Is there no physician there?

Why then has the health of the daughter of my people not been restored?”  Jeremiah 8:22

My husband was sick recently with what turned out to be a pretty serious infection (diverticulitis).  Like many of us do, he waited until the pain was quite bad before he went to the doctor.  He kept hoping it would just go away if he ignored it long enough.  He didn’t want to spend the money or take time out of his busy schedule. At the doctor’s office  he was given a course of antibiotics which he began taking right away.  Then he anxiously waited for the pain to subside.  Thankfully within a few days it did.  I’m sure he wishes he had visited the physician sooner.  Now if he follows a different diet, he hopes to stay well.  But if the pain comes back, he’ll know what to do — get to the doctor quickly.

Where is all this going?  Well, this reminds me of the sin-sickness from which we all suffer.  We try to ignore it.  Pretend it’s not there at all, or that it’s something we can live with.  We don’t want to interrupt our lives by going to God.  We don’t want to admit He deserves our time, talent and money.  We’re selfish and want to keep going in the familiar (sinful) way we’ve become accustomed to.

For some of us the pain finally gets so bad we give in.  We turn our problems over to God.  We confess our sins and trust that Jesus will cleanse and restore us.  Wow, what a relief!  The love and peace we receive is so amazing, we can’t understand what was keeping us away before.  With a proper diet (regular worship, the sacraments, study of God’s word) we won’t have to find ourselves in that miserable situation again.  We know what to do.

There is a balm in Gilead.  Something that will make us strong and healthy again.  Why wait?