C.S. Lewis on How Satan Uses Midlife Monotony

Editor’s Note: If you’re not familiar with The Screwtape Letters, you have an extraordinary opportunity to gain new insight into how Satan may operate in our lives. The “Letters” are written from a senior devil to his apprentice, advising the young tempter how to lure people away from God. In this excerpt, from Chapter 28, Screwtape counsels his apprentice on our vulnerability and lack of perseverance during middle age.

The long, dull monotonous years of middle-aged prosperity or middle-aged adversity are excellent campaigning weather. It is so hard for these creatures to persevere. The routine of adversity, the gradual decay of youthful loves and youthful hopes, the quiet despair (hardly felt as pain) of ever overcoming the chronic temptations with which we have again and again defeated them, the drabness which we create in their lives and the inarticulate resentment with which we teach them to respond to it – all this provides admirable opportunities of wearing out a soul by attrition.

If, on the other hand, the middle years prove prosperous, our position is even stronger. Prosperity knits a man to the world. He feels that he is “finding his place in it,” while really it is finding its place in him. His increasing reputation, his widening circle of acquaintances, his sense of importance, the growing pressure of absorbing and agreeable work, build up in him a sense of being really at home in earth which is just what we want.

From: The Screwtape Letters. Copyright 1942.