What if we...
At an early age, I was taught to pray. My mother was, and remains, the pianist for the church she grew up in. At around her mid teens she began playing for the small Baptist church. She is now in her mid seventies and plays yet. I was taken (read dragged at times) to church as a youngster. I was placed in Sunday School classes, spent summers in Vacation Bible School, and eventually graduated to the regular church. All along the way I was taught to pray. For salvation for myself, for my family, for the betterment of others.
I consider myself a caring man, although I do have a harsh streak inside of me. I sometimes have little pity for those who I perceive to have squandered chance after chance on poor decision making and still ask for assistance for others, oftentimes anybody they can get it from. I perceive they may not have any pride left and are just preying on others good will. Then I catch myself and ask "What if I was in their shoes, and I had not squandered chances but had them ripped away from me before they became manifest? How would I be?" I can say that in this world more and more live check to check, with little or no fall back options. And more and more are running out of options, relying on the goodwill of others to sustain them, either through charities, Government assistance, or just panhandling at the corner.
If pressed, I cannot say I would be any different.
This morning, I was thinking (a rare occurrence for me), at least this type of deep thinking. In 2011 a tornado hit my town and devastated it. For those of you who know me this is detailed in my hub Hell's Half Hour: The Joplin Tornado. In this story I hypothesized that Satan caused the storm in order to cause as much heartache as possible in order to force the town's people to turn from God, feeling He allowed the tragedy. In this manner Satan could gain souls for his army of darkness.
Then my thinking took a turn. Now, follow me here: I was putting out the garbage can and the strap that goes over the can to keep the lid on (we live in the country and our neighbors have dogs that run freely) came loose. It was raining, I was struggling to put the strap back in place and I had to laugh lest I cry. I thought to myself "Poor Satan; all he has to do is cause misery for others. How lonely that must be."
Yes, in that moment I felt sorry for Satan.
There are times that it feels like we are in his bulls eye more often than not. Just this year, my family has endured my stay in the hospital (atril fibrillation); another visit (choking on my dinner); the people leasing to own our home vacating it and causing over $10,000 damage; our taking them to court and winning a settlement (doesn't mean we'll ever collect anything); the subsequent assumed vandalism on my wife's vehicle to the tune of two tires being destroyed by said people; and now my wife involved in an accident (she's ok) and her vehicle currently in the shop. The other driver was without a license (can anybody say possible DUI offender?); his insurance is giving us the runaround by not admitting fault (Hello! He was taken away in handcuffs!) and not covering our rental car, her medical bills (for checkups to make sure nothing is wrong), and her vehicle being fixed. Our children have endured their own problems and it just feels like it is more than any family should have to endure. We struggle to do the right thing, treat others with respect, pray for and care for others and yet we feel like we are under constant attack. We need a break!
Whew! I'm okay now. Back on track: this morning. Yes, I felt sorry for Satan. Why, you ask? Didn't he bring it on himself? Yes, I suppose so. He got, in my vernacular, "above his raisin'". That's something you just don't do with God, He will take you down. Satan got his just desserts and will spend eternity in Hell. And that may be where he is supposed to be.
But think about it: we are supposed to pray for those less well off than we. Those poor souls who have fallen from grace, who do not have anything good going for them. Does Satan not fit that bill to a T? If we who are Christians "Do unto others as we would have others do unto you" should we not hope for a salvation for all who sin? Strange thought, that. Praying for the one who causes the most damage in this world to see the error of his ways?
Prayer can accomplish miracles. Prayer makes us feel better because we are conversing with God the Father. I pray daily, just little whispered nothings for my family, my co-workers, my friends, the world. It does not have to be an ordered, fill in the blanks prayer; it can be simple. We should pray for everyone to receive blessings; why not Satan? If he were to see a better way, perhaps the pain and suffering here on Earth would lessen and the people of the world might get along for a change.
Radical, I know. Praying for the king of the underworld to become "a better person". Unlikely as well. But really, how long does it take to whisper a prayer? Consider that if we all said a little ten second prayer for not just World Peace, or stopping hunger, or for our family to get along better, or to have a better paying job, or a hundred other little things we might pray about in our daily life we added in a little tidbit about Satan? Something like "Lord, Master of all things, I ask for Satan to be granted the wisdom to acknowledge his wrongdoing and know You are the God of all. In Jesus name I pray, Amen."
Would the world become a better place?
Who knows? I am a big "root cause" kind of guy. I believe in finding the root of the issue and taking care of it there. Take dandelions for instance; one cannot git rid of them by pulling the stem and leaves away. It will just grow back. One must dig down deep and remove every vestige of the root system; only then will you eliminate the weed. To me, the hurt, poverty, degradation, pain and suffering are at Satan's feet; not God's. So should we not pray for the one who causes the pain and suffering to seek a better way?
I realize some will see this as beyond their comfort zone, beyond their scope of forgiveness. I find it difficult to accept as well. But is this difficulty Satan's way of keeping his foothold in our lives, of forcing us to be what we do not want to be and halting us from being what we desire to be: loving, caring, Christian people who care more for others than we do for ourselves? Consider this as the ultimate Golden Rule test: if we can forgive the one who causes all of the pain in the world and ask forgiveness for him, are we not following in Jesus' footsteps by forgiving the devil.
Maybe the Rolling Stones weren't so far off the mark. Perhaps we should have "Sympathy for the Devil" after all.