If you are in the midst of a challenging situation right now, you may thinking about the past and focusing on the good times you had. Even if there were plenty of difficult times in the past, we tend to glorify the “old days” forgetting about the struggles and only thinking about the good times. The past can also be a place of comfort. Even if things were bad, we knew what to expect. In our present circumstances, we may be facing a situation that we haven’t experienced before or we may be in a time of waiting. This can be an uncomfortable feeling and can cause us to go back to what is familiar, even if it was mostly bad. Being stuck in the past can prevent us from enjoying the future and appreciating all of the good things that are happening around us.
We aren’t the only ones who get stuck looking back when things get difficult. Humans have been doing this for thousands of years. In Exodus 16:3, the Israelites are complaining bitterly about their current situation. “If only the Lord had killed us back in Egypt,” they moaned. “There we sat around pots filled with meat and ate all the bread we wanted. But now you have brought us into this wilderness to starve us all to death.” (NLT) All of this complaining comes after they have seen the plagues that went through Egypt…after their firstborn were saved from death…after they were freed from their lives of slavery…after they witnessed the sea part so that they can walk through and after they have seen Pharaoh’s army destroyed.
Instead of focusing on the things that they had in the present…their lives and their freedom, they were focused on the things in Egypt that they could remember being positive and forgetting about everything else. The whips…the straw…the taskmasters…the bricks. We do this when God moves us on from a place, a toxic relationship, a dead end job, etc. and when things get tough, instead of looking at all God has saved us from, we focus on the few good things about our previous situation and none of the bad things. We forget about the blessings that we have in the present and how God is guiding our steps forward towards even better things than we could imagine.
Unfortunately, we won’t get to experience those good things if we keep chasing after the bad things that he has already rescued us from. Instead, just like the Israelites, we will keep wandering around in circles. We can’t get to where God wants us to go if we are constantly turning around and going backwards. If you are in the midst of a challenging situation, instead of running back to the past, trust the God who brought you out of that and into the future. Keep walking forward with God and looking to the good things he has ahead for you.