Patti Armstrong is an award-winning author and was the managing editor and co-author of Ascension Press’ bestselling Amazing Grace series. Her latest books are: Big Hearted: Inspiring Stories From Everyday Families and Dear God, You Can’t Be Serious. She has a B.A. in social work and an M.A. in public administration and worked in both those fields before staying home to work as a freelance writer. Patti and her husband live in North Dakota, where they are still raising the tail end of their 10 children.
We know that devil desires our destruction. But is he a weatherman? Can he throw lightning or put a Richter scale into high gear? How about raining on a parade? And does he have the wherewithal to send an historic blizzard to wreak havoc on the March for Life?
Winter Storm Jonas whittled down the number of participants and activities for the March for Life in D.C. this year. Then, many, including our North Dakota students, became stranded in buses overnight and into Saturday on the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
Before the blizzard had spit out its last snowflake, I received emails informing me who was behind the epic storm. God. The Devil. Two very different viewpoints. Which one is right?
The Devil Did It
Those blaming the evil one claimed the snowstorm was proof that pro-lifers are winning the fight for life against the devil. They claimed that since he is the prince of the world, there is no doubt it was him who disrupted the march. Although the march went on as planned, it was severely compromised by the storm; many buses and events were cancelled. And so, it seems to them that the devil had a stake in the storm.
God Did It
Others looked at the havoc and attributed it to God as a chastisement because of abortion. An email being passed around from a pastor pointed out: “Communities were completely paralyzed by this storm, with economic damage in the billions of dollars.” It noted that the storm coincided with the anniversary of the legalization of abortion resulting in the deaths of over 58 million unborn babies.
A parallel was drawn between the storm’s name, Jonas (which means Jonah in Hebrew) with the Bible story where Jonah warned Nineveh that the judgment of God would come upon them if they did not repent. The pastor speculated: “Perhaps it is no accident this historic blizzard named after the Biblical prophet fell on Washington D.C. That it fell on the anniversary of the Roe vs. Wade….Could this be a terrifying warning to our President and our nation?”
Which Is It?
I don't know if the devil’s sphere of influence includes weather. I do know, however, that Jesus calmed the storm on the boat with the apostles. I also know that many thousands prayed for good weather on that day. If it was the devil, then God, who has power over the devil and heard our prayers, chose to let the devil to hinder the March. But whether, it was God himself who stirred up the weather or he merely allowed it, it seems we should not blame the devil for the storm. God wanted us to experience that storm whether by sending it directly or passively allowing it.
A third explanation is that God caused it, not as a chastisement but to ultimately bring forth a greater good. Our North Dakota students stuck on the PA Turnpike understood that their pilgrimage continued. Many blessings came from the storm, including offering up their wait, praying multiple rosaries and chaplets of mercy, and a Mass with 7 priests concelebrated on a snow altar with around 500 participants. This situation brought more media coverage for the March for Life since the mainstream media usually plays deaf and dumb to it. Even Al Roker, the weatherman for NBC, mentioned the snow Mass on the turnpike.
Don’t Blame Devil for Everything
Too often, people attribute everything that inconveniences us to the devil. Certainly he tempts and harasses us, but it can be self-serving and even heretical to announce the devil caused something such as a storm. Heretical might seem a strong word to describe that habit, but if people attribute something to the devil that came from God, what else you would call that?
Non-Christians often make fun of us for attributing too much to the devil. For instance, I’ve heard people who wanted to accomplish something only to get tripped up, say it’s the devil that doesn’t want them to get it done. I can’t say if the devil was in the mix, but ultimately, either God is going to have his way or the devil is.
Failure and inconvenience is sometimes God’s will, according to one of the messages from Jesus to St. Faustina. On February 22, 1931, Our Lord Jesus Christ began appearing to the simple nun in Poland, bringing with him a message of mercy for all mankind. During one of the visions with Jesus, St. Faustina brought up a priest who was being obedient to God’s wishes, but his attempts were not achieving the goal for which he strove. “Why are you letting him fail?” St. Faustina asked.
Jesus explained that failure in man’s eyes is not always failure in God’s eyes. “Write that by day and by night My gaze is fixed upon him, and I permit these adversities in order to increase his merit. I do not reward for good results but for the patience and hardship undergone for My sake.” (86).
Whatever the outcome, God is allowing it—be it a storm, the consequences of our sin, or whatever project is not going well. The efforts are ours, the outcomes, God’s.