The ninety first psalm speaks of “the scourge that wreaks havoc at high noon.” It also expresses confidence in God’s protection from that scourge as well as other evils. Based on that psalm some spiritual writers speak of the “Noonday Devil.” The Noonday devil stands for the trials and temptations that assail us after our youthful fervor has faded and before we reach the age of peaceful resignation.

There are temptations peculiar to that period – fear, guilt, lack of fervor, loss of conviction, and discouragement. And that period may be very lengthy. The boundaries are not well defined. It is more a question of a mental/emotional state than of chronology. That peace and resignation of old age may well prove elusive. We may struggle to attain it for a long time.

Bernard Basset in a little book entitled The Noonday Devil, speaks of various fears to which we may be subject: fear because of past sins, fear that God will prove harder than we think, fear that our standards are too low, fear that we will never put things right, fear that we will be unprepared for death.

Many of our fears are imaginary and can be safely discarded. We would do well to set aside all fears that are based on the past or on the future. Why? Because such fears are concerned either with facts that cannot be altered or with imagin-ings that may never see the light of day. The second worst thing about such fears (fears based on the past or on the future) is that they are useless. The worst thing about them is that they can be damaging to our spiritual well-being.

How one copes with the Noonday Devil is fundamentally influenced by one’s understanding of the meaning of life. Our actions are based on our under-standing. If our understanding is defective our behavior will be unrealistic.

Among the things that are commonly experienced in one’s later years are feelings of guilt and regret over past failures. There is one very important thing to remember in regard to our past failings. We may be magnifying our failures by carrying back to the past a light we did not have at the time. It is important also to recall the consoling message Jesus, conveyed through that familiar parable of the prodigal son. We learn that while the past cannot be undone it can be repaired. There is no mistake, no sin, however radical or disastrous, however much shame/guilt it may have brought into our lives, that cannot be repaired by the healing power of God made available to us through the cross of Jesus.