Now, Satan and his demons hate God and hate everything He stands for. They want to lash out at Him; they want to hurt Him in some way. But they have a problem. What if the Being you hate is almighty? What if the Being you hate is God and can’t be hurt? Well, your only option is to do is the next best thing. You try to hurt that which is made in the image and likeness of God—human beings. Ultimately, the reason why we’re fighting an invisible war here on earth is because Satan and his demons hate God so much that they want to offend him, and the only way they can do that is by hurting us.
4. You talk about the devil’s strategy in your book on trying to deceive man to believe he doesn’t exist. How important is it that we’re aware of this deception?
Oh, very important. It’s been said that if God’s sacred name is “I am Who Am,” then the devil’s name is “I am who am NOT.” Satan would prefer that we don’t believe in his existence, or in the existence of any spiritual realities. That’s the best way of making people atheists, isn’t it? That’s also why I think true cases of demonic possession are very rare today. Yes it can happen, but not so frequently as some people imagine. The reason is that if the devil and his demons went around possessing everyone, people might indeed become frightened, but there would also be a general increase in faith in the spiritual world and in God, Himself. And that’s the last thing the devil wants. It would go totally counter to good diabolical strategy. As C.S. Lewis said in his great book, The Screwtape Letters, the surest road to hell is the one without any sudden bumps or turns—and most importantly, without any signposts. From the devil’s point of view, it’s much smarter for him to stay in the background, quietly tempting people. That’s why the more we are aware of this strategy, the more in-tune we can be to the true source of temptation, and the less likely we will be to rationalize our sinful behavior.
5. What do you mean by the “invisible power” of suffering?
Very simply, this: God is the source of all power. When we’re in union with Him, that’s when we’re at our strongest—because we’re literally “plugged into” the power source of the universe. Well, God suffered a lot, in the person of Jesus Christ. In fact, when God saved the world, He didn’t do it by preaching a sermon or writing a book or donating money. He did it by being nailed to a cross and dying a painful death. That’s the method He chose to overcome evil, and to overcome death, itself. So when WE suffer, we’re in union with God in a very special way. We’re being Christ-like in the most intimate and poignant way possible. And that’s powerful. When we’re in pain, and we patiently and prayerfully offer that pain up to God, it’s more powerful than any verbal prayer we can utter, because at that moment, we are most in union with the suffering Christ; we are most “plugged in” to the source of all power.
6. What was the most significant chapter to you?
I would say that this chapter on invisible suffering was the most significant for me. The reason is that I feel one of my main callings as a writer is to use whatever gifts I have to try to bring consolation to people who are suffering and grieving. In all my books I try to do that, but I think that in this particular chapter I may have been most successful. At least that’s what people have told me. Beyond that, I think this chapter was also the most personal in the book. In it, I relate the story of how my grandmother came to America from Italy back in the early 1900s, and all the suffering she went through—including the deaths of three of her children. It’s such a sad story—like an Italian version of the book, Angela’s Ashes—and yet there’s so much hope in it. So much good came out of her suffering, and it was very meaningful for me to put it all down in writing. I really hope it can inspire others who are suffering.
7. How do you want your book to minister to the people in Staten Island, who’ve endured such loss from Hurricane Sandy?
This book is about the invisible world—the spiritual realities that surround us which can’t be seen or touched. So many people don’t pay any attention to that world. And yet, that world is just as important and in some ways more important than this world. What I hope my book does is help to re-focus people on that reality. My goodness, we’re all just a hair’s breath away from death. Whether it’s a car accident, cancer, a heart attack, or a hurricane that finally does us in, none of us has any guarantee that we’ll be here tomorrow. Never was a more accurate line written than the one in Scripture that says the same God that gave us the morning does not promise us the evening. Life is just so fragile. There’s an old, Latin phrase that bears much repeating: Memento mori—“Remember, you must die.” To admit this does not make you a cynic. Nor does it make you an unhappy, depressive person. It makes you a realist. It makes you sane. It’s the healthiest perspective you can have.