After having experienced an extremely painful trial over the past several months, one thing that the Holy Spirit has been revealing to me is that I sometimes walk dangerously close to the edge of spiritual cynicism. I often hear the voice of Job's wife whispering "curse God and die" in my ear when I think of how much suffering and pain is experienced in this life by God's children. The reality of how wicked the cultures are at most major corporations and how many Godly Christians have faced evil treatment at their jobs just because they don't fit into that culture is quite disheartening as well.
Most Providentially, Paul Miller has a chapter in his book entitled "Following Jesus Out of Cynicism." This chapter is chocked full of wise counsel and is grace-saturated through and through. Here are a couple of great excerpts that I found very true and encouraging:
"Cynicism looks reality in the face, calls it phony, and prides itself on its insight as it pulls back. (ouch!) Thanksgiving looks reality in the face and rejoices at God's care. It replaces a bitter spirit with a generous one.
In the face of Adam and Eve's evil, God takes up needle and thread and patiently sews fine leather clothing for them (Gen 3:21). He covers (their sin) their divided, hiding selves with love. The same God permits his Son to be stripped naked so we could be clothed. God is not cynical in the face of evil. He loves."
"Cynics imagine they are disinterested observers on a quest for authenticity. They assume they are humble because they offer nothing. In fact, they feel deeply superior because they think they see through everything.
C.S. Lewis pointed out that if you see through everything, you eventually see nothing... Lewis said that what was required was a restoration of the innocent eye, the eye that can see with wonder. That is the eye of a child."
Then Miller recounts the story of David and Golaith, pointing out that when David arrives at King Saul's camp, he has a childlike response to the shocking news that the taunts of the giant Philistine have pinned and paralyzed the Israelites. He blurts out, "Who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?" (1 Samuel 17:26)
Goliath becomes enraged when the Israelites send David, a mere child, to confront him. In verse 43 he exclaims, "Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?" to which David replies:
"The LORD saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the LORD's, and he will give you into our hand."
At the end of the chapter, Miller concludes with an excellent application.
Here is my summary:
When the pure in heart begin with examining their own hearts -- confronting the beasts in the valley of the shadow of death -- they are able to see clearly later. Not seeing through everything like the cynic, but seeing clearly the abnormality of Goliath cursing the living God. The result is avoiding critical, negative cynicism and avoiding being captured by the spirit of the age and the culture around us. We will see the joy of the Lord, sing while we're in jail and calmly face seemingly overwhelming circumstances that are an affront to the LORD by trusting in His care.