Recently there was a report on the news about a delayed action computer virus which had supposedly infected computers around the world. It was going to be triggered at midnight on a certain date. I think it was July 15. The result would be that all infected computers would lose their internet connections. You would have to arrange reconnection with your internet provider. Which would be a real hassle. I don’t know about other people, but for me, any time something isn’t working on my computer, resolving the problem is almost always a hassle and wastes a lot of time. Then I feel guilty about not getting done the things I’m supposed to be getting done.
In this case, in the midst of this bad news, there was good news. I knew my computer was not infected with this virus. How did I know? As I understand it, sometime in the past year the FBI became aware of this virus and developed a test you could perform on your computer to find out if you were infected. My daughter told me about this and suggested that I try the test. It was simple. I just went to the web-site the FBI had set up for this purpose and clicked on the test link. I was expect to see a large red or green circle on the screen. Red meant infected. Green meant not infected. I hoped for green. Then I performed the test. Good news. Green circle. Hope fulfilled. Then I forgot about it until I heard the recent news reports. I did the test again. Still green. Then I waited until the day the virus was to be triggered. The first thing I did that morning was check the computer. I was still on the internet. Really good news – for me. But what about everybody else?
I have to admit, when I heard the news reports about this virus, even though the test said I was okay, I still worried about it to some extent. In the back of my mind was the thought that maybe the test site was not really provided by the FBI, but by the very people who introduced the virus. Or maybe the test site was not really reliable.
Also, while I really felt a sense of peace when I discovered that everything was okay for me, I began to feel guilty about all the other people around the world whose computers had been infected. I think it’s called survivors guilt. I was expecting that this would be the top story in the news that day. But there was not a word about it. Neither was there anything in the newspaper. Now it’s a few weeks later, and I still haven’t heard one word about this from anyone – anywhere. So now I’m thinking this whole thing was some kind of hoax. Which tells me that maybe I should have my doubts about the reality of a lot of other things that supposedly might cause me some trouble.
The more I thought about this, the more I began to sense that this was an example of how the devil works. Now, before I go any further, please note that when I speak of the “devil”, I don’t believe there is really a man called the devil wearing a red suit, horns on his head, and holding a pitchfork in his hands. But I do believe in the reality of what my church (The United Methodist Church) calls “spiritual forces of wickedness” and “evil powers of the world”. I have noted that the name “devil” is “evil” with a “d” in front of it. So I use the name “devil” as a short way of saying that I believe there are evil forces at work in the universe, and certainly in this world , and even in our lives.
I believe the purpose of these evil forces is to separate us from God. The devil uses a variety of ways to try to separate us from God. In the case I just described, he used (or tried to use) panic, fear, worry, guilt, and doubt. He tried to redirect my time and effort away from what God wanted me to be doing, and to have me focus instead on this computer virus.
The devil is always looking for opportunities to have his way with us. He constantly bombards basically good people like us with threats of things which can go wrong in our lives. He tells us we should take care of all these problems, no matter how much time, money, or effort it takes to fix them. He tells us we don’t need God to do that. We can do it on our own. Just use common sense. But the devil knows that we do need God to get us through our problems in all areas of life, not just computer viruses. Then he tries to make us feel guilty because we can’t do it all and we don’t know it all. Sometimes he succeeds and we feel helpless and hopeless. We throw up our hands in despair. Then he fills us with messages of failure and condemnation to such an extent that we have no room for God’s message. Which is just what the devil intends.
The devil tells the truth when he tells us there is bad news in our world and in our lives. Yes, we do have to live with threats and realities of computer viruses and a lot of other real or potential problems in all areas of life. But the devil tells a half truth. The devil doesn’t want us to hear the whole truth. Which is that in the midst of the bad news we can experience good news. The devil doesn’t want us to hear the good news that God loves us and nothing can separate us from His love, regardless of our circumstances and regardless of what we do or don’t do. The good news is that we don’t have to let the devil get us down. God always makes it possible for us to say no to the devil and his work. Believe me. I know from experience that this is the truth. The next time you are facing a problem which causes you to be in a state of panic, fear, worry, guilt, doubt, or any other negative feeling, don’t let the devil get you down. Instead, turn to God for love, guidance, and direction. Then say yes to God, listen to and obey Him, and let Him take get you through it all.
Grace and peace, Ray
Thanks for your attention. We look forward to hearing your comments about our web-site. We also invite you to send us stories of your experiences and observations of present hopes and hope fulfilled, so we can spread them around the world via this web-site. This is one way we can all join together to help keep hope alive.
May God be with you,
Patty and Ray