Whenever I used to hear people talk about the devil working in their lives I was very skeptical. It seemed to me they were using that old excuse, “the devil made me do it.” What a convenient way to avoid taking responsibility for their actions! How easy it seemed to blame someone else for their mistakes! I used to tell Tim I was not sure I even believed in the devil. Then, one day in my mom’s faith sharing group the subject of the devil came up. I remember the facilitator explaining how the devil tempts us to sin and attacks us to keep us from following God. At first, I sat there doubting it all and feeling like it was nothing but excuses again. Then she said, “We know the devil is real because Jesus tells us he is. It says in the Bible that Jesus, himself, was tempted by the devil.” It was an interesting point and one that made me think. I have since come to see that the devil is indeed very real. He is also very sneaky and very much at work in the world always trying to pull us away from God. He is, of course, no excuse for bad behavior or justification for our own sinfulness but though he is not responsible for any of the choices we ultimately make, he sure can make a holy life difficult at times.
I have felt the devil attacking me and my family a whole lot in the past few weeks. The harder I try to pray and draw near to God the more I see obstacles thrown in my way. The first plan of attack the evil one has launched in my life has been against my marriage. Now, thankfully, Tim and I have a good marriage. We love each other and are committed to each other because we both believe in and respect the sacrament of marriage and the vows we made to each other. Nevertheless, our marriage has been less a source of love and companionship lately and more a battleground against busyness, distraction, and complacency. Tim and I have not been fighting, we have not been angry or frustrated with each other. We have just been busy and oftentimes going in two totally different directions. He has his two jobs, taking up much of his time. I have the kids, the house, and the school plans and work to keep me constantly on the run. When we have a minute to just sit down and relax together our conversations revolve around home repairs, schedule conflicts, and discipline issues with the kids. We even had a date planned last weekend, after a very kind friend offered to watch the kids for us free of charge, but the devil struck again! Just hours before our date, we had more trouble with the air conditioner and with our house soaring to over 90 degrees, had to cancel the sitter and instead sit home and figure out how to pay for another a/c repair bill. Which brings me to another area of life that seems fraught with demonic designs. Our house, our haven of safety and peace, has been falling apart around us this summer. Every weekend has been spent fixing things that were never in the budget to fix. Every repair seems to be somehow undone during the week and needs to be re-repaired the next weekend. Both Tim and I are at our wits end with the endless repairs, breaks, and bills, bills, bills trying to keep a roof over our head and a place to lay our exhausted heads at night. Which leads to another crazy part of life that can only be the work of Satan and his malevolent plans. Money. Now, our finances have always been a little precarious and we are very accustomed to depending on and trusting in God to provide for us but lately, mostly due to all the unexpected trips to the local home improvement store up the street, money just seems to be more of an issue. We feel like we are just one more break-down from complete financial ruin. All the hassle has added a lot of stress to our home and cast a shadow of frustration to everything in life.
The devil is, unfortunately, very good at his job. He is good at distracting us from prayer and our quest for holiness, he is good at making us doubt the love and care of our Father in Heaven, he is good at leaving us feeling worn out with nothing left to give to our families, or to God. I know my prayer life has suffered in the last few weeks. When I lay down at night and look at my Bible sitting next to my bed waiting for my daily prayer time and reading of scripture, I admit I have skipped it more than once in favor of shutting my eyes and blocking out all the craziness of life. Recently, I have awoken with a pit in my stomach and feelings of anxiety as I face another unpredictable day, and started the morning snapping at my family and setting a negative tone to the day right from the start. I can almost picture the devil sitting down in Hell, flames flaring up all around him, with a huge grin on his face watching the tranquility of my home crumble under the stain of his attacks.
So, what can we do to fight the power of evil in our lives? How can we combat the discouragement and fatigue that come with the feeling that everything in life has become a battle? Prayer is the only answer I have. If all we can manage are prayers uttered in frustration, “help me God, please help me” we must trust that even these do not fall on deaf ears. And if we are too weary and worn down to pray for ourselves we must depend on the prayers of our friends, the prayers of our guardian angels and the saints in heaven, prayers from our Blessed Mother all offered on our behalf. For God has promised to answer our prayers, and to not abandon us to the evil one. And, of course, as we as Christians know, our God has already won the fight! Hard as he may try, the devil will never triumph.