For the past 35 Wednesdays my husband and I have fasted and for the past 35 Wednesdays, the devil has acted a plum fool. Whether he throws an unexpected financial difficulty, asperity from one another, dysfunction within our extended family, personal illness, tragedy, or vehicle malfunction our way, he always throws something. Several Wednesdays ago while already annoyed from the pangs of hunger, Nigel and I received unfortunate news regarding a lump sum of money we’d been awaiting for several weeks. That Wednesday’s gag was we’d no longer be receiving it, not only meaning unpaid bills and not-so-choice meal options until I got out of the ‘one month hole’ my job places new employees in, but that we’d have to figure out how to fund his last $50,000+ year of medical school. That’s right, we had way bigger fish to fry than Nashville Electric Service and Kroger, 2012 through 2017 were hanging in the balance as the threat of not being able to close out a chapter Nigel had been writing since attending a camp for aspiring physicians at the age of 14 lingered. I don’t know whether it was the inner peace that comes from turning down my plate for God or the lack of energy that comes from being pass the point of famished, but I didn’t become alarmed. I responded to Nigel “Something crazy happens every Wednesday, Bae. We need to recognize patterns so that situations won’t offend or discourage us so much.” And just like that, we exposed Beelzebub and took away his power to torture us.
I heard a statistic once – 85% of the things we worry about never happen – and while math may not be my strong suit (I prefer calculators and SPSS Software), it feels true. Think about all the times your emotions have carried you away for naught causing you to waste time and mental strength on situations that ultimately worked out in your favor. Nigel and I could’ve chosen to misspend ourselves by serving Pan (the Greek god believed to be responsible for inducing the mental and emotional state known as ‘panic’) that Wednesday, but instead we chose The Only Living God, putting our foot down long enough to recognize the devil’s patterns and rebuke the threat of war. Some may call it fate and others may recognize it as a result of our faith, but the next Wednesday, we received the money we’d been previously disallowed and Nigel entered his final year of medical school. Fast forward to today and my Baby has one elective left to complete his Doctor of Medicine degree and in about nine months will walk across a stage in front of a family of proud onlookers becoming Nigel Barner, MD! One does not get that far in life without studying their opponent.
Today, as unfortunate event after unfortunate event happens to you, commit yourself to not getting burned twice by the same flame by looking for patterns in your adversity. Does it tend to occur on a certain day of the week? At a certain time of the day? While you’re at a certain place or with a certain person? The more you understand the enemy, the better able to manage your emotions surrounding the things he does you’ll be. After analyzing the patterns that characterize your misfortune, you’ll become more vigilant and less likely to be conned into treating the threat of danger like actual danger. Untoward situations will become more noticeable thus more manageable as you grow in your awareness of the way satan moves in your life. Instead of expressing fear, faithlessness, and frenzy, you’ll find yourself more inclined to patiently await the act of God your gullible past self used to be tricked into believing wasn’t coming. As you strengthen in your ability to predict the devil’s next move, you’ll stop viewing him as a byzantine, menacing, all-powerful deity and start seeing him for who he truly is – a disgustingly predictable flimflamming scoundrel who I’ve recently found fancy in referring to as “the prince of patterns.”