Some wonder: is it OK for a Christian to be nostalgic or to have nostalgia? Nostalgia is defined as a wistful or excessively sentimental yearning for return to or of some past period or irrecoverable condition.
Solomon the wise answers this question: “Say not, ‘Why were the former days better than these?’ For it is not from wisdom that you ask this” (Ecclesiastes 7:10). An individual with an undisciplined mind often feels that the present is more trying than the past, and consequently becomes irritable and complains. It is also more common for the elderly to have this temperament.
The children of Israel in the wilderness were continually murmuring and not content with their present life. They had nostalgia and yearned to go back to their old life in Egypt. They forget their suffering, misery, and slavery. They complained to Moses about their “life” in the wilderness saying, “If only we had died by the LORD’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death” (Exodus 16: 3).
The Israelites unbelief and distrust in God’s love caused them to wander 40 years in the wilderness (Numbers 32:13) instead of reaching their destination in a matter of weeks. Theirs was the sin of unbelief and discontent. They had every reason to rejoice in the Lord for the great delivery from slavery that He had given them and for His daily watch care over them by supplying food, water and protection. Instead, they chose to complain.
Focus on the Present
Nostalgia is not evil when it is experienced in a healthy way. But unfortunately, it often leads people to live in the past and make them not ready to deal with the present. People should not worry about the future nor dwell on the past. Rather, they should focus on the present. Jesus said, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matthew 6:34).
Christians can be free from anxiety during the most distressing circumstances, fully assured that God, who does everything well (Mark 7:37), will make all things “work together for good” for His faithful ones (Romans 8:28). And if the Lord allows suffering and hardship to come upon His children, it is not to destroy them but to refine them (Romans 8:17).
Paul admonishes the believers saying, “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13–14).
The apostle’s one purpose was to fulfill the Lord’s purpose in calling him. He didn’t have a divided aim. He did not seek both for the wealth and honor here and for salvation and a crown hereafter. From his singleness of purpose there came his deep spirituality and success in his ministry. For he knew that past victories, no matter how glorious, are not enough to ensure present or future safety. Such devotion left no time for regretful nostalgia.
To the runner in a race, the only object worthy of thought is to live today in such a way as to win the reward. Similarly, the Christian runner must fix his eyes on the goal of eternal life and on the inheritance in the world beyond. A clear vision of this goal will move him in the present to be faithful in his devotion and service to God (Hebrews 12:1, 2).
The believer must not be nostalgic; he must not stop; he must continually press forward until the goal is reached. The good news is that while in the earthly races there could be only one winner (1 Corinthians 9:24), in the Christian race, each believer has the chance to triumph and receive the final prize.
In His service,