We often say, “I miss the good old days.” Usually when we say that we are thinking of a time in the past when we thought life was better than it is now. Behavioral scientists claim people have a cognitive biases towards a “rosy retrospection.”  That means we tend to believe the past is more favorable then the present or even the future.

Mr. Nick Chater, a British Professor of Behavioral Sciences explains,   “But can this really be right?” In particular, our memory tends to forget about the bad events in our past. We have a tendency to rehearse and dwell on the good things that happened, we retell them a lot more often, and so we reinforce the good memories. Moreover, we tend to remember the great songs or cars or football players from the ‘old days’ and forget all the bad ones.”

He further remarks, “After all, if we really think things were better, then if we could ‘roll back time’ we should see life getting steadily better. But going back in time would lead us through, among other things, 9/11, global nuclear confrontation, two World Wars, increases in infant mortality, shortened life expectancy, and the loss of all the technological inventions that have made our lives easier.”

Perhaps our mind is tricking us into thinking the past was better than the present. But God does speak of a time when things were better in the past. In the Old Testament book of Jeremiah, the people of his day had rejected the old ways of the Lord. They had once walked in the good way of the Lord and their life was better because God blessed them, their leaders, and their nation.

But by the time of  Jeremiah, they had rejected the “old way” the “ancient paths”. In Jeremiah 6:16, the Lord says to the people “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.’

Jeremiah spoke day after day calling them back to the good way when they followed the Lord. But these people refused to return. They refused to be ashamed of their sins of immorality, idolatry, and wickedness. They replied to him, “We will not walk in it.” They tossed aside the good and moral ways of God for their own freedom to fulfill every selfish desire.

But while the days of our past may not have been as good as we think, there was some good in those past days. There was a time when children were taught kindness, purity, loyalty, obedience to authority, and reverence for God. And those beliefs were demonstrated in the behavior of adults who had learned those values. Truth mattered more in past days. There was a time when people believed in morals, exercised self-restraint, and sought the good of others. Life was precious and the senseless taking of life was the exception not the norm.

But let us not become discouraged. The Lord still rules and reigns. We, who are in His kingdom, can still continue to walk in the ancient paths, even though all those about us refuse to walk so. Remember, the Lord said, “My kingdom is not of this world.”  Walk in the ways of the kingdom of the Lord, not in the ways of the kingdom of this world. Let your light shine that men may see it and glorify your Father who is in heaven. Therefore, when we remember the “good old days”, let it be a remembrance of  how the Lord desires us to live. — Tom