To look forward, I think it’s important to look back. In our culture, I think we tend to uphold the “new” over the “old” when this should not always be the case. The past can either be nostalgic, apathetic, or painful and the future can either be hopeful, apathetic, or painful. How you look at either one will depend on your past and what you expect or wish of the future. Though more importantly, it will depend on how you view the world and the events that occur in it. Let’s just take something simple like the 2012 doomsday prediction. If you love the present and the past then you will resent the future because you know that these things will be taken away from you. However, if you hate the past then you may be completely apathetic about the future because everything has been taken away from you anyway. On the other hand, if you think 2012 is a new era, then you will be excited for what is to come. For others, the future is not so certain but the past is certain, which makes it easier to hold onto.
By the title, you may think I prefer to look at the past but that is not exactly true. For the Christian, I think the past, present, and future are all things that we can appreciate in different ways as a complete whole. The past began with God’s creation, it continues in the present by God’s conservation, and the future is grounded in the purpose that God has had for creation from eternity past. From that perspective, I do not need to be so concerned with the nature of my feelings toward events in my life if they do not go the way as I’d wish them to go for I already have a treasure that lasts for eternity – namely, God Himself. Those who cling to anything other than God will be far more affected by the nature of the past or the future than a Christian would because any good that they have here can and will be destroyed eventually, including their own bodies.
It’s possible to have the mindset that “life is short so we got to make the most of it” but that’s quite meaningless in the end as you could equally not make the most of it and not be any better off. I’m not attacking any particular “atheistic” worldview here, but it sure seems that any person without Christ is experientially void of any true hope. The best you can do is appreciate things for the moments that they exist while failing to understand the One who gave you such goods to begin with. If your dad offered you something that he had built personally, would it make sense to love the object more than your father? Since the object is an expression of his love and goodness, I think it would be degrading. The same applies here. Furthermore, with the uncertainty of the future and the relative good/bad of the past and present, what would we say to someone who has had nothing but misery or hopelessness? Make the most of it? That makes no sense. The problem is, people cling to the wrong things as their highest good when only God can fill that position. In Him you can find rest, hope, and salvation for all people regardless of their past, present or future. What other worldview can supply this?