Be warned men, you will be afflicted by the “Noonday Devil” on your journey to wholeness in Christ. This is the term given to the sin of spiritual sloth and discouragement, known as” acedia.” The desert fathers of the fourth century called acedia, the noonday devil – “destruction that wastes at noonday” (Ps. 91:6), because during the hottest part of the day, the monks would be tempted give up on the work of the spirit, leave the desert and return their former way of life. Through painful introspection, the monks would criticize themselves for not being fit for the journey. The noonday devil would then attack them with acedia, the distain and distaste for the rigors of the spiritual journey due to spiritual warfare.
Today it can be seen in Christian men, who seem to drop out of the race, lack commitment and energy, become careless, while displaying a passive indifference to the way of Jesus. Some even become passive aggressive. Their self talk becomes focused on not being worthy or spiritual enough, simply feeling as though they can’t measure up to the standard they feel is the norm for a man of God. These men become spiritual causality in the spiritual battle that is getting more intense in our day. They are the “wounded soldiers” that need to be rescued from the noonday devil, who is intent on taken out a lot of sincere men who don’t understand the subtle way of the Devil. “The Devil is poised to pounce and would like nothing more better than to catch you napping” (I Peter 5:8) – Message).
“The other demons are like the rising or setting sun in that they are found in only a part of the soul,” observed Eavgrius, one the early leaders of the monastic movement. But, “The noonday demon….. is accustomed to embrace the entire soul and oppress the spirit.” The combination of sadness and lethargy cause acedia to be expressed as despair, crippling the spiritual energy of a man. It is like a spiritual blanket of darkness that falls over the soul.
Years ago, Fernando Ortega recorded a song entitled, “Noonday Devil.” As I listened for the first time, being under attack by the noonday devil, I was despondent with my spiritual progress. I was turned in on myself, deep in the “disease of introspection,” feeling sorry for myself as a husband, father and pastor. I could feel myself losing energy for the journey, while beating myself up because of my indifference. The words, “In my hour of hopelessness/In my deep despair/The noonday devil whispers in my ear” spoke to my condition.
But it has been only years later that I came to understand the meaning of the refrain, “Oh Lord, make me angry/ Oh Lord, make me cry/Oh, Lord break my cold, dark heart/So I can know your love inside/ Your love inside.” I now see the refrain was encouraging me to be honest. I was angry and I wanted to cry. But I could not admit I had a cold heart. The key over the years has been the discovering of the love of God in my own heart. I have come to realize,”There is nothing to ‘get’ in the spiritual life because I already have it. I simply need to become aware of what I already have”( Albert Haase) and “Things are not what they seem to be” (Haase).
Men the words of the Psalmist can be very helpful when battling with the noonday devil. “Your face, Lord, I will seek” (Ps 27:8). It is not your spiritual heroics that will get you through, but rather your awareness, trust and surrender to the loving presence of God within ( Rom 5:5).