Potato Sticks, Panic & Providence

 
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Hi, my name is Omar and I am a recovering food addict. There! I said it—or wrote it, rather. Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about potato sticks, those lovely tiny deep-fried French-fry type thingies . . . well, doing more than thinking about them lately, but I’ll get to that in a minute.

I live in the United States—the peach-loving state of Georgia, to be exact. And ever since this coronavirus outbreak hit, I, like many, have been anxiously keeping track of its rapid spread. I was concerned when I first learned about it, but as the days turned into weeks and the weeks to months, my attention, focus and concern grew into a healthy worry . . . and then anxiety . . . and panic and . . . remember those potato sticks?

Well, I began to buy and eat potato sticks more frequently—I mean, they’re only a dollar for a small bag. Initially, I lied to myself: Hey, Omar, you work hard. You’re just treating yourself. But as the virus grew in intensity and literally came closer and closer to where I live, I began eating more of those bags and thinking more and more about them. I never totally went off the deep end. I never ate more than one bag a day—I usually spread it out over an entire day.

I am a Christian who has read through the Bible multiple times. I am an internationally published author, speaker, counsellor, trainer and freelance writer—the kind of guy who you’d think would have it together. I mean, I’ll be 50 this year. I’ve lived through a lot of bad stuff, but somehow this felt different. In my heart I knew that something wasn’t right. Why was this thing getting to me so much? Why was I eating so many potato sticks? Where was my faith in God? I prayed daily—multiple times a day, for God to give me peace in the midst of this storm, but still . . .

The question nagged at my soul: why couldn’t I stop being anxious about this issue?

Then one day last weekend my daughter, who is 18 (going on 30) outright confronted me. She busted me throwing away an empty bag of, you guessed it, potato sticks, and asked why I’d been eating so many lately. I thought about lying to her, but somehow this felt like God was speaking to and through her, and I needed to listen.

So I fessed up and told her the truth. She listened intently, paused, responded with a simple “hmmm”, while simultaneously shrugging her shoulders and, looking directly into my eyes, said, “You know, as bad as this thing is, God’s not chowing down on potato sticks, so why should you? You know that’s bad for you. So why don’t you just talk to God about it and then . . . well, just have faith that He’s got it all under control?”

I just stood there, too blown away by that simple truth to respond. I’d just been schooled by my daughter—my less-than-half-my-age daughter about the clarity of her doctrine of God’s sovereignty—His providence, really—her faith in God and the practical application of that faith. In the midst of all of this coronavirus problem, my faith is not in myself, and certainly not in potato sticks, but in God’s providence. That day God brought this passage of Scripture to my mind: “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart’” (Jeremiah 29:11–13).

I still enjoy potato sticks from time to time, but the difference is that now I’m not using them to self-medicate my emotional pain or panic. I turn to God, unload on Him and believe Him when He tells me that He’s got my back. He’s got yours, too.

 

Omar Miranda is a healthcare professional, regular writer and proud parent. He lives with his family in Georgia, USA.