Pain and Spiritual Warfare

Huddled in bed not being able to move or tilt the neck without a sensation of sawing neck muscles, one’s attention is focused on that pain and that pain alone. The battle is not merely physical (though pain relief is in abundant supply if only mildly effective), but rather there is a battle in the soul to dispel darkness, dark thoughts, dark images from utterly consuming your psyche. Incessant is the pain and a reminder that sadness and gloom and disability may be all there is to reality. Happy thoughts are not reality so are not dwelled upon. Reality is here, now, in your neck, shoulder and deep within the sinews of your body: deep in untouchable places.

In my research into redemptive suffering I have stumbled upon a tangent I had previously dismissed: a preternatural source for my pain and suffering. I have read and listened to Father Vince Lampert, Father Gary, Father Malachi Martin to name a few. I had never even considered curses or dark forces possibly be partly a source of physical suffering. I have read detailed accounts of possessed people seeking exorcism who were exposed and experienced physical manifestations from some sort of malevolent force. I have read accounts of priest exorcists being thrown, punched, mentally tortured in the course of performing an exorcisms. Yet, never ever did I think at all that what I am feeling would bear any relationship to that.

I truly believe in good and evil. As a Mormon Christian I believe in Christ and God the Father who is the source of all good and divine. His enemy is Lucifer/Satan who in premortal times challenged God’s plan for humanity and sought God’s honor and power for himself. When rejected, Lucifer rebelled and took 1/3 of the host of heaven with him in battle. The rebellious were kicked out of heaven and sent to earth (yes, earth, not hell, according to scripture). Satan’s anger at this injustice was then directed at humans with the premise: hurt the child to hurt the Father. We though were given a precious, uniquely individual gift of free will or personal agency which neither Satan or God can control without our voluntary consent.

We humans also possess a physical body which seems to be coveted by Satan and demons. Yes, that corruptible, evil body as described by so many other Christian creeds has value, has something uniquely human according to Mormonism. How can something so frail, so animalistic have value? Christ said he never created anything temporal; everything has eternal significance –even our bodies. When I suffer from my incessant pain and maladies the body sure seems to indeed betray me. Yet, spiritually, my body as a place for my spirit and does have worth in the eyes of God. And Satan knows that. Why would the legion in the New Testament exorcism story ask to be translocated from a possessed man into a herd of swine? Even an animal body is preferable to nothingness.

So, how does this tie into preternatural influence upon someone’s health? Isn’t that superstition to blame unjustly a person’s suffering upon themselves or upon innocent others in some sort of irrational witch hunt and ignorantly denying natural causes for malady? No. There is a ton to be unpacked by all of this and no, I am not suggesting demonic causation for everything in some sort of paranoid rant. I am saying that after all psychiatric and all medical explanations with limits on their expertise and effectiveness—possibly, just possibly, could a spiritual component be related? Just related. Not total causation or paranoia. How would one then go about investigating that? How? Evil does exist and other people can wish you ill as much as they can wish you well. Satan’s mission statement is to destroy humans and their souls by any means possible: be it temptation, rejection of God, doubt, hedonism or thousands of personalized means. Any tool to break down a person’s will or turn it away from God at least. Extreme examples of persons being enticed to hand over their wills to Satan or evil would be the ultimate trophy.

But some very good people; saints included; Jesus included are also attractive targets. My reading of very holy Catholic saints reveal that their lives were not some sort of nirvana but rather fraught with frightful and even violent attacks by demons. I had always dismissed these stories as exaggerations of hagiography, but now…. Maybe there is some truth to them? These good people did not ‘merit’ evil through a sinful life.

Anyway, I am exploring evil’s influence on a person’s health. It seems according to exorcists and even Satanists say that curses may be real. Generational curses are those an ancestor took upon themselves in a blood or oath covenant to a demon or Satan (they go by other demi god names). That curses the family line with misfortune, infertility, mental issues, misery. Sounds way out there, doesn’t it? The Articles of Faith seem to counter that as the sins of Adam are not upon the sons of Adam. Curious. Is that only for the ‘original sin’ or for all oaths and ties subsequently entered into. In the temple we do proxy work which is good work, blessed work for that ancestor which affects family lines. Could there be the opposite? A curse that can be consecrated upon posterity?

What about individual illness? Can a generational thing be going on or could this be part of an attack plan by Satan to wear one down? Wouldn’t Christ intervene? Wouldn’t our temple blessings protect us? Should. Yet, temple covenants do not protect from other temptations or tragedy. We have our free will at all times to choose God or not. If we do not actively choose God then by default we are allowing a crack in our will or our armor of God to be open to other forces. And in my case, at this particular time, the enemy is pounding to enter…. Seeking any entrance at all.

There is so much I could explore and maybe later blogs will. Mormonism does not have a good theology of evil. We do not really explore the tricks, techniques, and destructiveness of this very real power. I get it, we really need to focus on the light, of God, as only through Christ’s power and authority can the real presence of evil be banished. We do not have anything like Catholic exorcism or protestant deliverance prayers. I have had to study this on my own. Surely, we must never dwell on evil as that curiosity is itself an opening. Yet, we need to understand this very formidable enemy to motivate us to keep close to God, to discern situations that do have direct and indirect evil involvement. [And when I say evil I mean true demonic presence and not merely a flippant “I don’t like that/you” feeling]. The scriptures are replete with admonitions, warnings, and encounters with the devil. I am blown away by just how much is written in holy scripture about the devil and how to overcome him. May write a subsequent blog about this as well.

I know from personal experience recently that the tools of active religious life [not mechanics of church activity without active engagement] are critical to maintaining a shield of protection. And paramount is a real testimony of Jesus Christ. I, and all the exorcists, have found that we humans are helpless to confront demonic power on our mortal strength. The supernatural power of evil is real, it is superhuman. We MUST call upon Jesus and invoke his power and authority which even demons must obey. To me, this just shows our utter reliance of Christ to navigate this life. Not because I am terrified, paranoid about every little bump in the night has demonic origins. Rather, this is a partnership in a much grander scheme of things. God wants us to choose His side but we cannot be forced to choose Him. We must be tempted and tried as part of this mortal experience. I personally think that we gain some experience with evil so that we can discern it from God and goodness as did Moses. Moreover, that experience will be called upon later perhaps acting as angels for others battling evil. And for sure we know of the great and final battle wherein we will all be enlisted.

In the here and now, for the chronic pain member, realize that despite the actual source of pain be it natural or partially preternatural, you are in a very sensitive state. Again, not saying that all illnesses are demonic in origin. Easier would be to give up. To allow your spiritual life to succumb to despair and darkness. Despite what whispers into your ear that you deserved this; that God hates you and that is why you suffer; that this will be with you until the end of your life with no let up in sight, recognize that the Deceiver will use this to his advantage. You may be in agony physically but you do not need to be in agony spiritually. Keep close to the Lord by listening to or reading scriptures daily, pray continually, ask for divine assistance through God and His angels to sustain you, get priesthood blessings, wear the temple garment as a shield and a protection, have the sacrament even if you cannot get to church—have a priesthood holder give you it, listen to conference talks. Fill your home, your room, yourself with light. Darkness despises light.