It was there in the Garden of Eden, in the circling of the wilderness, and in the sufferings of Job. It was evident on the tongues of the Pharisees, in the trial of Jesus before the Sanhedrin, in the piercing shouts of the crowd, and at the foot of the cross of Christ. It followed the works of the disciples, the journeys of Paul, and 2Peter 3:3 tells us it will be with us in the last days.
It takes on different names – skeptic, pessimist, contemptuous, scoffer, just to name a few – and we are unconsciously inundated with it on our virtual platforms and in the daily news cycle. But it’s not until we have been inflicted with some sort of personal calamity, been the subject of someone else’s harsh words, have found ourselves isolated or lied to by those we trusted most, or have been confronted with a daunting task, does cynicism, if allowed, begin to manifest in our hearts and affix its name to a face.
And that face may look like that of your derisive neighbor. It may parallel that of your cynical friend. That face may embody a scoffing family member. That face, yeah that one in the mirror, may resemble my own skeptical self. Because let me just be real honest here, when you pray for God to search you – He does. When you pray for God to test you and to know your anxious thoughts – He will. When you pray for God to point out anything in you that offends Him – He certainly obliges.
In the midst of this global pandemic, there is something spreading far faster than the virus itself. Something so rampant, that it has covertly crept into our governments, our communities, even into our quarantined homes. Something for which there is no immunity, but for which a cure has already been made available. Something for which you experience the symptoms of distrust, resentment, or suspicion, whether they lie dormant for a long time or present themselves more promptly – and mine is the former.
I mean, the swift upending caused by this very pandemic alone has triggered some level of pessimism in me and this elongated period of imposed isolation has unfortunately been witness to my words wreaking a world-weary disdain. That is why this topic could not be timelier.
But it goes beyond the stirred-up skepticism of this current state. There have been things festering in me – things I’ve repressed, like losses from long ago I’ve yet to fully grieve, ministry disappointments that have caused me to be more guarded, and deep personal hurts that have yet to mend. The festering has only harbored seeds of cynicism and because God loves me too much to see those seeds take root and stifle His calling on my life, uncomfortable as it may be for me right now, He is answering my prayer and pointing out my offense. So now the healing begins!
See, I don’t want to be like the 10 cynical Israelites in Numbers 13 & 14 who got a taste of the land flowing with milk and honey, but whose distrust in God cost them their very inheritance of entering into the Promised Land. I don’t want to have a sneering attitude like Jonah did toward the people of Nineveh, conveying a belief that others are not deserving of God’s forgiveness. I don’t want my words to ooze with sarcasm like that of Nathaniel’s when he insinuated that nothing good could ever come out of Nazareth. And I don’t want to be like the scoffer in Proverbs 9:7 that considers personal suffering an opportunity to retaliate.
I do, however, want to be bold like Caleb and Joshua in Numbers 13 & 14, indubitably trusting God to keep His promises and to defeat the giants in front of me. I want to exhibit their excitement in seeing God move in the impossible and I want to exude with their confidence in believing who God says I am as His child. You know, someone once said, “The optimist says the cup is half full. The pessimist says the cup is half empty. The child of God says, ‘My cup runneth over.’”
My cup runneth over. Caleb and Joshua knew this when they saw the land flowing with milk and honey.
My cup runneth over. The Psalmist knew this when He experienced the peaceful protection, the purposeful provision, and the powerful presence of the Good Shepherd.
My cup runneth over. And I know this. As a child of God, I can declare it boldly to the cynical festering within – my cup runneth over. Not because of anything that I have done, but because of a redeeming grace that is the cure for all mankind.
My cup runneth over. Full stop.
Prayer, renewing our minds in God’s word, intentional verbal gratitude, and praise unto Him are all practical weapons at our disposal to uproot life’s cynicism threatening to harden our hearts. Through my practice of these disciplines, I have also been enlightened:
- To declare this bold reminder of God’s goodness – “My cup runneth over!” (Repeat as necessary)
- And to live as those made alive in Christ, daily clothing myself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience towards others, for they may be world-weary too.
What declarations from Scripture do you find useful to ward off cynicism?