Evil can only destroy and cause damage -- in your relationships, in your family, at work, even in church -- if you engage with it, allowing it to channel through you. Then it has a foothold from which it can wreak havoc.
There may be dark turbulence all around you; this happens in life -- often. But stepping back when it occurs (not fleeing in fear, but taking a step back, instead of becoming immersed in it), is a key to protection. This takes patience, self-control, and humility.
When evil attacks -- and it isn't something you brought on yourself, through failings -- chalk it up as a suffering. Don't let it take over your thoughts. If you brought it on, chalk it up as a lesson and move on from it.
Be on guard against self-pity. In that word ("pity") is "pit": When you're worn down and discouraged, this can be a demonic trap. Don't go near the edge of it. The edge of a pit can crumble, and suddenly you are way down. Far easier is it to prevent such a fall than to try to climb out of it.
This means there are many times when an attack by evil can be prevented, or at least lessened, but that we potentiate it -- give it energy -- due to our egos, lack of discipline, sloth, impatience, anger, ignorance, or outright sin (greed and lust and unforgiveness are magnets).
When we do allow it to come into us, to whatever degree, we grant it that entrance and perhaps even a stronghold, expanding quickly. To engage with evil -- to respond to evil with evil, to let someone "get your goat," to be resentful, and burn with vengeance -- is to engage with and then marry it. We are now bound to it (and thus in bondage) to whoever is aiming the evil at us. It can be the start of a vicious cycle.
The secret is to not let darkness initially enter, and this takes what the Bible says: vigilance every waking moment (1 Peter 5:8: "Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour"; and not just as lion: evil comes in every size, from microbe to insect, to crow to even something Jurassic: Isaiah 27:1: "leviathan, the twisting serpent").
How does it grow?
It tries to engage you. It tries to get you to react (the wrong way). It tempts, confuses, irritates, occupies, causes fury. You're infuriated by the unfairness.
When attacked by the devil -- whether out of the blue or through the failings of others (who are channeling it toward you) -- don't fall into the temptation of fighting tit for tat. The more preoccupied with it you are, the more power it gathers. Don't ignore the presence of evil (which is the opposite extreme), but neither let a negative consume your thoughts.
It obsesses. It becomes a broken record.
As the Pope said recently of the devil, "He is a liar and what's more is the father of lies, he generates lies and is a trickster. He makes you believe that if you eat this apple you will be like a God. He sells it to you like this and you buy it and in the end he tricks you, deceives you and ruins your life. 'But father, what can we do to avoid being deceived by the devil?' Jesus teaches us: never converse with the devil. One does not converse with him. What did Jesus do with the devil? He chased him away, he asked his name but did not hold a dialogue with him."
Resist evil (James 4:7), but don't fight with it on its level. Its level is in that pit. Fight it through Jesus. Give it to Him, "submit" it to God, over and over, until it diminishes and eventually, inevitably, evaporates. Resist through persistence -- your eyes on Christ, not on the red eyes of the serpent. Resist the devil and he will flee.
Didn't you ever notice how the "sting" of an injustice or insult only lingers, even gets worse, the more you pay heed to it, the more you talk or think about it, obsess on it, allow it to irritate you (instead of firmly casting it out)? Would you lock horns with a bull? Does that work?
Or is there another approach? Instead of engaging with evil (a nasty e-mail, a cross word on social media, a sharp word at dinner, or on the phone, during holidays, in a text), rise above it.
No matter the thickness of clouds, remember that the sun (Son) shines above them.
[resources: February Michael Brown retreat: Vero Beach, Florida]