Friday, September 18, 2009

A Praying Life - Following Jesus out of Cynicism

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.


Tracy said...

Your post here is one I can really relate to.

I'd been thorough some really difficult situations at my job recently that had ended with my termination (from a job where I'd worked for 9yrs with an excellent track record). I'd been shocked that I could actually lose a job because I did not fit in with people who were pursuing evil; I would never have thought such a thing could happen - but it did. I'd let these situations create a cynical heart in me; but God's been calling me back to His love and grace. He's been teaching me gratitude and helping me see how great His forgiveness is toward me - so how could I ever judge anyone else?!

Deb said...

Hi Tracy! Thanks for visiting. I'm so sorry to hear about your difficulties at your previous job. I can def relate to the shock you must have felt after losing a job in the same way. It's hard to believe that things like this can happen, and it's also hard not to get cynical about people and question God's goodness. But God knows what we need the most and He cares deeply for His children. I have prayed for you and hope that the Lord will continue to draw us both closer to Him during this time of drastic change. Thanks again for commenting! :)