“Cynicism begins with a wry assurance that everyone has an angle. Behind every silver lining is a cloud. The cynic is always observing, critiquing, but never engaging, loving, and hoping…Cynicism creates a numbness toward life…
The movement from naive optimism to cynicism is the new American journey. In naive optimism we don’t need to pray because everything is under control. In cynicism we can’t pray because everything is out of control…
Shattered optimism sets us up for the fall into defeated weariness and, eventually, cynicism. You’d think it would just leave us less optimistic, but we humans don’t do neutral well. We go from seeing the bright side of everything to seeing the dark side of everything. We feel betrayed by life…
Without the Good Shepherd, we are alone in a meaningless story. Weariness and fear leave us feeling overwhelmed, unable to move. Cynicism leaves us doubting, unable to dream. The combination shuts down our hearts, and we just show up for life, going through the motions.” (Paul E. Miller)
Have you become a cynic? Scornful, negative, edged toward pessimism, do you think and speak with open (or veiled) sarcasm? Jaded by disappointment and human failure all around, have you lost hope?
A way back, toward Hope
There is a way back. But you have to be willing to give up the comfortable familiarity of a bitter-blanket covering. Whether you consciously, or unwittingly, placed your hope in the wrong things, and having had your hopes dashed, adopted cynicism as your salve, cynicism chosen as a self-protectant against pain doesn’t have to be your way of life. There is hope.
Hope is found in a Person. And in a future with that Person.
So, instead of hiding behind cynicism, you can moment by moment, call to God who hears and has a better plan for you than you could imagine. You don’t hope in your plans. You instead, moment by moment, intentionally slay your notions of the perfect details you’ve scripted for your life. You call those plans what they are: hope in the wrong things, hope in your ability to craft and control your own story.
You instead throw off your safety blanket of cynicism and dare to hope in Jesus. You call to Him. And when you do:
“Jesus opens his arms to his needy children and says, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). The criteria for coming to Jesus is weariness. Come overwhelmed with life. Come with your wandering mind. Come messy. What does it feel like to be weary? You have trouble concentrating. The problems of the day are like claws in your brain. You feel pummeled by life. What does heavy-laden feel like? Same thing. You have so many problems you don’t even know where to start. You can’t do life on your own anymore. Jesus wants you to come to him…
…Instead of fighting anxiety, we can use it as a springboard to bending our hearts to God. Instead of trying to suppress anxiety, manage it, or smother it with pleasure, we can turn our anxiety toward God. When we do that, we’ll discover that we’ve slipped into continuous praying.” (Paul E. Miller, A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World)
And when we’ve slipped into continuous praying, and an unexpected day of anxiety arrives, a day when we’re tempted toward our old default of jadedness (toward the cynicism we’ve used to numb our fear of feeling hopeless), we instead begin to know we are not alone in a meaningless story. Our heart bent to God, we know we are not betrayed. We are not alone.
And as we pray to God who calls us nearer, we find that hope-less cynicism begins to melt away. Hope in Jesus, the ever-present friend we can talk to, the friend who is hope, relentlessly conquers our previously-chosen cynicism. Unstoppable hope prevails.
“…The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus…and the God of peace will be with you.” (Phil. 4:5-9)