I remember my dad muttering, “highway robbery!” when forced to pay 29 cents a gallon for gas on vacation. I admit to thinking I’ve been robbed when seeing a medical bill. My college statements gave a low four digit number rather than the current shockingly high five digit numbers.
Where are the days when children went outside to play all day and neither they nor their parents worried about dangerous strangers lurking in vans? Remember when there was no need to pay attention to what others or our children posted online?
It’s natural to look back at the good old days.
Ecclesiastes 7:10 says a surprising thing about such thinking:
Do not say, “Why were the old days better than these?” For it is not wise to ask such questions. Ecclesiastes 7:10
Are the old days are better than these?
There’s always more to the story
Conservatives think of the good old days under Ronald Reagan and liberals look back longingly on Barack Obama’s years. I’ve heard people say that they wish we could return to days when prayer was allowed in schools, when Christianity was the religion of the vast majority of people, and before smart phones and social media overtook our attention.
Were those days really better?
In some ways the good old days were better, but in others they definitely were not. I don’t want to go back to blatant racism or sexism. Yes, both still exist, but they are no longer culturally acceptable except in small but loud groups of people.
Medical costs have gone up astronomically, there is no doubt about that, but medicine has also made tremendous advances in the last 30 years giving many better quality of life. Personally, I’m very thankful for skilled doctors, the TPA clot-busting drug, and even chemotherapy.
When we look at just one or two variables we see a skewed picture. It reminds me of the wandering Israelites who regularly complained in the desert and wished for their lives in Egypt.
Oh that we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt that cost nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic. But now our strength is dried up, and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at. Numbers 11:4-6
Never mind that they were oppressed and afflicted slaves; they had cucumbers in Egypt. It’s important to look at the entire picture when deciding whether life was better in the old days. I’m not so sure it was.
It suggests that God is not trustworthy, that he’s not in control, and that we know better than God.
Life on this messed up earth is full of problems. Sin always finds a way to tempt us, distract us, and it convinces us that we know what’s best. We don’t.
In the USA, the dollar rules along with its partner, power. Politicians of both parties, businesses, individuals, and sadly even some pastors are trying to gain more influence than the other guy and to squeeze more a little more profit for themselves. Jesus said that we can’t serve God and money, and the trajectory we are on will only lead to trouble.
At the same time, God applauds the advances that humans make and he wants us to enjoy them. I think it gives him great pleasure to see one of his children discovering a new medication, or inventing an amazing gadget, coming up with a startling thought or writing an engrossing book. At creation he told us to subdue and fill the earth, and although it is complicated by sin, that’s still his desire.
Advances in technology, medicine, agriculture, and travel have dramatically improved our lives. It’s not that uncommon any more to live to be 100 years old. Diseases that once were deadly are being cured or managed, we can FaceTime with our faraway kids and airplane travel, while admittedly uncomfortable for my tall husband and sons, is very doable. I can publish this blog post and anyone anywhere in the world can read it and I can order anything and it will show up at my doorstep within two days.
When we think the world is going down the tubes, remember that God is in control. There are still many people who live their lives to serve Him and others. Countless folks have life-long goals that are not self-serving. Revelation teaches us that the world will eventually become beyond repair, but as long as God’s people are on the earth there will be improvements and good work to be enjoyed.
And one day He will wipe every tear from our eyes.
He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. Revelation 21:4
Instead of pining for the good old days, perhaps we should anticipate the perfect days to come.
Do you think that the world is better or worse or about the same as it was years ago?