Fighting Cynicism (Keyes)

 I have to admit that sometimes my cynicism level gets too high. And it brings with it a nasty form of apathy. I’m not cynical about the truths of the Christian faith, the reality of God’s existence, or the historic Christian church, but I am sometimes cynical about many other things. To combat this unhealthy cynicism, I’ve learned to avoid a lot of media – news media and social media. I’ve also found Dick Keyes’ book Seeing Through Cynicism to be a helpful resource. Skimming through it this morning I ran across this section I highlighted a few years ago:

If a loving God is in ultimate control of events on earth, that is a great source of confidence. Even when we cannot figure out what is going on and why, somebody who is both powerful and good can. But with belief in providence comes the temptation to try to ‘read’ it, in the sense of figuring out what God is intending through the events of our experience, looking for a play-by-play running commentary on God’s purposes. This temptation has led many people into terrible folly – as if they could determine whether God is for or against them and their efforts by observing their circumstances. If we think we can read providence, we are likely to think God is on our side when things seem to be going well, and that he is against us when events do not go as we had hoped. Perhaps neither is true.

…Paul wrote to the Romans: ‘O the depth of the riches and wisdom of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor? (Rom. 11:33-34).

Did you notice the words ‘unsearchable’ and ‘inscrutable’? It seems that real faith in God does not need to interpret providence but allows God to be God and admits that his providence may include things completely outside of our understanding. Faith often requires that we obey God while having very little idea of what God intends for our future or what part we may be playing in the larger story.

Dick Keyes, Seeing Through Cynicism, p. 104-105.

Shane Lems
Hammond, WI, 54015