How did you react? Maybe by raising your fist heavenwards and complaining to God, “Why are you making this so impossible?!”
There you are, attempting to do His will ─ usually something you don’t want to ─ and He blocks your progress.
Does Being Good Have to Be So Difficult?
Why, Lord, should I bother carrying out Your will when you make it way harder than necessary? I’m not asking for a pat on the back ─ just no impediments. Is that too much to ask?
Then an insidious thought creeps in: maybe, just maybe, this isn’t what God wants? A naughty hope begins to flicker: is this my ‘out,’ and I don’t have to do it after all? As if visiting your sick mother, or weeding your wheelchair-bound uncle’s garden or ─ name your obviously good deed ─ could possibly be against God’s wishes!
I’ve noticed that sometimes God does let me off the hook when I’ve proved wholeheartedly committed to doing His will. But His MO in those cases isn’t to make it hard to carry out the task: suddenly it doesn’t need doing any more. This is not at all the same as trying to duck out of an unpleasant task because we think sudden difficulties prove that it’s against God’s plan for us.
What Is Evil?
O.K., Miz Know-It-All, you may ask, then what’s the deal when the job clearly needs doing, but events conspire against us when we attempt to perform it?
The answer is: Beware, Satan at work! God isn’t throwing rocks in our path – the Opposer is.
I’d never looked up the word ‘Satan’ until our parish priest happened to mention it in a sermon. Previously I’d assumed it was just a name, without any specific meaning.
‘Satan’ is Hebrew for ‘the opposer,’ ─ in the sense of ‘the one who opposes God’s will.’ He is also the great deceiver, who rejoices every time he tricks us into believing it’s not God’s will, and stops us carrying it out.
This knowledge is enormously helpful. Understanding that the devil is working hard to prevent my salvation, by throwing deterrents at me every time I try to do a good deed, has completely changed my viewpoint.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a saint: my knee-jerk reaction is still to get annoyed! But now I take a few deep breaths and conclude: “Wait a minute, if Satan making such an effort to put me off, I must be on the right path!”
It is enormously liberating to view obstacles in this light.
Can you imagine how frustrating it is for the Devil when his attempts to take us down end up helping us do God’s will instead?
The Devil Hates the Rosary
Because the Rosary is a powerful weapon against hell, the Devil loathes it. Now that I’m praying mine regularly, he has it in for my beads.
First he had our English Bulldog chew the decades old one I had from Lourdes - and my Catechism, for good measure.
Then he lost my replacement Rosary when I went to drop off some things at church.
A kind friend gave me a new one, and as usual I picked it up to pray in the car on my way to Mass. But in my hand was a tangled mess. ‘Somehow’ the chain links had become stuck and the beads were forming an extra little loop. I was already driving, so couldn’t do anything about it.
I thought, ‘Aha! The Devil doesn’t want the Virgin Mary to hear my 54 day novena!”
I prayed anyway, skirting around the new loop, and untangled the links with some difficulty when I arrived at church.
This made the Devil angry.
In church I pulled the Rosary out of my purse: it had come apart. One of the chain links had opened and separated from its neighbor. Mass was just beginning, so I had to wait until afterwards to connect the links again.
Since then my Rosary has been left alone. For the time being.
Dealing With the Devil’s Head Games
Sometimes inappropriate thoughts enter my head during Mass, and I wonder where they came from.
For a moment I feel really guilty. But then I remember who put them there (another name for Satan is the ‘accuser’) and recall that the saints were often assailed by him that way. Invoking their help dispels the thoughts and the guilt.
The more we advance in our spiritual life, the more attacks we can expect from the Devil. We can take comfort in knowing that he wouldn’t bother harassing us if we weren’t on the path to salvation.
I’m sure Satan must be thrilled he’s of such use to us on our road to Heaven!
P.S. He's trying to stop me publishing this post by bringing up 'authentication errors' :)