Put Your Trust in God (and Beat Cynicism)

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Get Out of Your Head" by Jennie Allen. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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Why should you put your trust in God? How can this help you to beat cynicism?

Putting your trust in God can be difficult, but there are many reasons you should do it. Learning to put your trust in God will help you beat cynicism and improve your personal relationships and emotional well-being.

Here’s why you should put your trust in God.

Put Your Trust in God

Your enemy in this battle is cynicism, which makes you pessimistic about people and life in general. In this article, you’ll find out why it’s so important to put your trust in God.

Some typical thoughts associated with cynicism include the following. Look for these in your own mind:

  • Everyone disappoints you. Don’t trust people.
  • Don’t get your hopes up.
  • Belief is for gullible fools.
  • I don’t need anyone’s help. I’m fine on my own.

Here are some other signs of cynicism. Use them in tandem with the thoughts listed above to assess whether you’re infected:

  • You find optimism annoying.
  • You think nice people have ulterior motives.
  • You always feel misunderstood.
  • You always expect the bottom to drop out when things are going well.
  • You’re quick to notice other people’s faults.
  • You worry about being taken advantage of.
  • You’re guarded when meeting new people.
  • You’re habitually sarcastic.

Your weapon against cynicism is delight. More specifically, it’s awe-filled delight in God, his goodness, and the beauty of his creation. You can reap the rewards of this by learning to put your trust in God.

The enemy’s basic lie in this battle is twofold: that you can’t trust people and that life won’t work out. Below this lies a deeper lie: that you can’t trust God. The enemy attacks with this lie by flooding your mind with thoughts about everything that’s wrong with our broken, fallen world.

This lie is generated and fueled by emotional pain. It’s a self-protection reflex based on wounds—and accompanying anger—from your past experiences, plus fear of the future. You project your woundedness and fear onto the world and refuse to let yourself hope for good things. You come to see hope and optimism as naivete and vulnerability. You emotionally interpret God and the world through the distorted lens of your personal wounds and disappointments. (Shortform note: Observe how cynicism is related to the fear that you learned how to fight in the previous chapter. Both battles involve fear of the future and the suspicion that God is not in control.)

The Effects of Cynicism

The negative effects of cynicism are devastating—primarily to those who buy into it! This is why it’s crucial to put your trust in God.

Most hurtfully, cynicism perverts your view of God. It wears down your ability to see him correctly. The root of cynicism is a refusal to believe in God’s goodness and his control of things. Cynicism takes away your ability to delight in the world and engage fully with other people. It robs you of joy. And it usually does this on the subconscious level, without your being aware of it.

Note that cynicism is active, not merely passive or receptive. It doesn’t simply receive or perceive gloom, it actively reads it into your life. Imagine going to a party and sitting next to people who complain all night about the food, the music, and the hosts. Now imagine the opposite: the same party, but now the people next to you rave about how wonderful everything is. In either case, your party companions would probably affect your subjective memory of the event’s quality—for the worse in the first case, for the better in the second case. To some irreducible extent, the “goodness” or “badness” of the party resides in your choice (perhaps unconscious) of how to regard it. Cynicism sees only the bad. And it does this not just with parties but with everything and everyone.

Allen illustrates cynicism’s negative impact with a personal story. Not long after the end of her 18-month crisis, she attended a weekend leadership retreat. The leader, a psychiatrist friend, noted the author’s self-protective and unfriendly vibe: Allen held back emotionally, brushed off questions about how she was doing (“I’m good!”), and was generally distant. Over the weekend, her friend gently pressed her about this, but Allen didn’t see it and wouldn’t own it. She had become unknowingly infected with cynicism. The root of her cynicism, as she only recognized at the end of the retreat, was a lingering sense of estrangement from and mistrust of God because he had allowed her to hurt so badly for so long.

God Is Trustworthy

The truth that exposes and overturns the lie of cynicism is simply this: that you can learn to put your trust in God without reservation. He will work all things together for good in the end. A key scripture supporting this truth is Romans 8:28: “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

Put Your Trust in God (and Beat Cynicism)

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Here's what you'll find in our full Get Out of Your Head summary:

  • Satan’s master plan for poisoning your mind with toxic thoughts
  • How to replace ungodly lies with scriptural truths
  • How to “put on the mind of Christ” and fulfill God’s plan for you

Elizabeth Shaw

Elizabeth graduated from Newcastle University with a degree in English Literature. Growing up, she enjoyed reading fairy tales, Beatrix Potter stories, and The Wind in the Willows. As of today, her all-time favorite book is Wuthering Heights, with Jane Eyre as a close second. Elizabeth has branched out to non-fiction since graduating and particularly enjoys books relating to mindfulness, self-improvement, history, and philosophy.

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