by Tom Wacaster
“Say not thou, What is the cause that the former days were better than these? For thou dost not inquire wisely concerning this” (Ecc. 7:10). Is it not interesting that the older we get, and the older our friends get, that we find ourselves reflecting upon “the good ole days”? Sometimes the stresses and strains of our high-pressured world take their toll and we find ourselves longing for “the good ole days.” But then, the good ole days were not as “good” as we think, and we tend to remember the “good” in them and forget the hardships and challenges we faced “back then”! One observer wrote: “The world is too big for us. Too much going on, too many crimes, too much violence and excitement. Try as you will you get behind in the race, in spite of yourself it’s an incessant strain to keep pace and still you lose ground. Science empties discoveries on you so fast that you stagger beneath them in hopeless bewilderment. The political world has news seen so rapidly you’re out of breath trying to keep pace with who’s in and who’s out. Everything is high pressure. Human nature can’t endure much more.” Those words appeared in an editorial in the Atlantic Journal on June 16, 1883. Truly, there is nothing new under the sun.
The Judds produced a popular hit some years back entitled, “Grandpa, Tell Me About The Good Old Days.” It reflects a time not all that long ago when the influence of God's word was still having an impact upon our society. One stanza in that song contained these words:
Grandpa, tell me 'bout the good old days
Sometimes it feels like this world's gone crazy
And Grandpa, take me back to yesterday
When the line between right and wrong
Didn't seem so hazy.
Grandpas don’t fit in today; their way of life was that of a different culture than what we see around us in this new century. As is often the case with each new generation, the older folks are written off as something a bit less than a nincompoop. With the changes descending upon us from a politically correct world and morally relevant society, is it any wonder that Grandpas take the time now and then to reminisce? But is that not what Grandpas are for? Is not the hoary head filled with wisdom that the younger generation desperately needs to survive in a world that lies in the wicked one? It is called experience; and experience is not something you get from books, television, movies or computers! It is something you live. It is something that comes only with the passing of time, and with age. We need to be reminded, as one ancient philosopher noted, “Young men for war, old men for counsel.” The late Richard Black shared the same sentiment when he wrote: “Eddie Rabbit, songwriter, commenting on the death of his son said, ‘I weave the pain and suffering of Timmy’s death through my songs. It’s a price of wisdom, but you pay for wisdom.’”
You see, it not just the “good” times, but also the “bad” times that help us grow in wisdom. While developing this particular thought I came across the following that addresses this precise point. “It’s only against the backdrop of hardship that the greatest beauty can be seen. When is the blessing of good health appreciated any more than following a bout of illness or injury? What an avenue is provided for the demonstration of deep devotion and appreciation when a loved one becomes incapacitated and a spouse or child tenderly cares for their needs. Isn’t it remarkable the outpouring of benevolent care from strangers to stranger following a natural disaster of wind or flood or quake? The human spirit is not at its best when idle or at ease, but when put to the test and hardship comes. Ultimately, how would one know of the all surpassing love of God were it not for the cruel circumstances of the death of our Savior? How much deeper the expression of love in the gift of that life by such brutal means than were He to do what most men would wish—give us what we want. Thank God for the hard times” (David Deffenbaugh).
It has been pointed out by social observers that today’s youth is the first generation of Americans that will not be able to reach a higher plateaus of living than their parents. Economically, the living status has declined to such an extent that the middle class is shrinking and the wealthy and poor are increasing at an alarming rate. Morally? Will anyone dare suggest that America has improved in this area over the past 50 years? And yet, in the midst of all of this insanity that surrounds us, we have the word of God that serves as a light unto our path and a lamp unto our feet (Psalms 119:105).
Maybe we should reflect upon the values that "Grandpa" practiced, and then remind ourselves that such values of "the good old days" were the fruit of God's word planted in the hearts of men. If we would ever hope to return to that kind of Godly living, then perhaps we need to be actively preaching and teaching that same gospel that was preached and taught "in the former days."