Let Your Nostalgia Point You Home

Let Your Nostalgia Point You Home  by DAVID GIBSON for The Gospel Coalition

It’s common to hear this sentiment today, almost word for word:

“Things aren’t like they used to be.”

“Why is the world getting so bad? Violent crime is on the rise.”

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“I’m glad I didn’t have to bring up my children in these days.”

But here’s how I think the preacher in Ecclesiastes would respond to people who say things like this: If you think you’re living in a world where things are getting worse all the time, then cheer up—at least you’ll be dead before things get really bad.

Maybe the past was better than the present. But when you start asking, “Why was the past better?” you’re denying the reality of God’s presence in the present. If you think things are worse, do you think God is no longer in control? Do you think he hasn’t brought you to the point where you are now and that he no longer loves you or has plans or purposes for you? To ask the question in Ecclesiastes 7:10—“Say not, ‘Why were the former days better than these?’ For it is not from wisdom that you ask this”—is unwise, because it forgets God.

Often when we ask this question, it’s because we’re blind to the good things of the present and ignorant of past evil.

Nostalgia Misleads

Nostalgia is often a form of escapism, taking a vacation in the past instead of grappling with the present or looking in faith to the future.

Nostalgia affects all of us, not just older folks looking back wistfully at their youth. Perhaps we get nostalgic about buildings or places; most likely, we experience nostalgia for people or an intensity of emotion we felt at a particular time. Have you ever stopped to think about the feeling of nostalgia and what it actually is?

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