Sometimes, Satan Uses the Little Things
In my sermon from this Sunday, I spoke about how trials and testing don't always look like gigantic catastrophes or life-altering collapses. Sometimes the most effective temptations in our lives are the monotonous, mundane frustrations that pile up. Whether its picking up your kids' socks off the ground for the millionth time or sending that follow-up email because that person isn't responding, little frustrations can be profoundly effective in stealing our joy and catapulting us into sin. Were our child to be rushed to the hospital or our business fold, most Christians would likely trip some emergency switch in their mind that says: This is a trial, you need to seek the Lord for help. This is a good thing. But that "switch" doesn't get flipped in our day to day frustrations.
I think it should. And I think C.S. Lewis agrees with me.
In Lewis' fabulous sci-fi novel, Perelandra, he tells a story where Satan has manifested himself as the "Un-man" on a new planet to tempt an Eve figure there. However, a man of Earth (Ransom) is sent by God to this planet to thwart Satan's plans and keeping the Eve figure from sinning. After enduring a full assault of temptations and deceptions and resisting them, the Lady falls asleep and the Un-man unveils his simple (yet effective) method of tempting Ransom:
All three were very still. Beasts and birds came often and looked upon them. Hours later the Un-man began to speak...
"Ransom," it said.
"Well?" said Ransom.
"Nothing," said the Un-man. He shot an inquisitive glance at it. Was the creature mad?...He dismissed the problem from his mind and returned to his own uncomfortable thoughts.
"Ransom," it said again.
"What is it?" said Ransom sharply.
"Nothing," it answered.
Again there was silence; and again, about a minute later, the horrible mouth said:
"Ransom!" This time he made no reply. Another minute and it uttered his name again; and then, like a minute gun, "Ransom...Ransom...Ransom," perhaps a hundred times.
"What the Hell do you want?" he roared at last.
"Nothing," said the voice.
Next time he determined not to answer; but when it had called on him a thousand times he found himself answering whether he would or no, and "Nothing," came the reply. He taught himself to keep silent in the end: not that the torture of resisting his impulse to speak was less than the torture of response but because something within him rose up to combat the tormentor's assurance that he must yield in the end. If the attack had been of some more violent kind it might have been easier to resist. What chilled and cowed him was the union of malice with something nearly childish. For temptation, for blasphemy, for a whole battery of horrors, he was in some sort prepared: but hardly for this petty, indefatigable nagging as of a nasty little boy at a preparatory school...
Then all at once it was night. "Ransom...Ransom...Ransom...Ransom" went on the voice. And suddenly it crossed his mind that though he would some time require sleep, the Un-man might not.
-CS Lewis, Perelandra, Chapter Nine, pg. 122-24
Maybe Satan's most effective device to spoil your joy is something so mundane it might not cross your mind as a trial or temptation: losing a night of sleep to a crying baby; an important Word document that was somehow deleted; the vending machine refusing to take your dollar bill. Satan is not so dignified to not use the most childish and crude means to lead you to sin. So, think: what irritates me most regularly? What little frustration, little indulgence saps my happiness in God?
Identify whatever it may be, and when it comes, tell yourselves: this is an opportunity for the devil and my flesh to lead me to sin, Lord help! Don't just react with what feels normal--fight! Resist it, pray, and draw near to the Lord, whether the trials are big or little.
"Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith," - 1 Pet 5:8-9.
"Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you" - James 5:7-8
"Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil," - Ephesians 6:11