By Jenna Ebener
I was out for a nighttime stroll. The snow was coming down heavily, and the night was still. I had a beautiful walk with God. I got home and reached for my key. It was not there. I backtracked, but the snow was so heavy that my tracks were already covered. I searched for my spare key, but after 10 more minutes of searching, it was nowhere to be found. It was getting late and I had work the next day. I reached for my phone to use the flashlight and my phone died. Up until this point, I had been calm, praying to God and trusting that he would guide me.
Finally, I hit my point of despair and my wordless plea went to God. At that exact moment of giving up control, my hand brushed my key.
God knows how much we can handle. He gives us experiences to push us and build our trust in him. Whether it is little by little or seems to be all at once, he gives us challenges to make us stronger. A year ago, I would have begun worrying sooner. Instead, I put my trust in God and kept repeating that thought and prayer. God knew when I hit my breaking point and was instantly there to help me. He had never left; he was simply building my trust in him.
I was thinking about this situation when I made a silent retreat during Lent. I realized that Jesus had a similar experience. On Palm Sunday, Jesus was welcomed into Jerusalem with fanfare and celebration. Days later, he was crucified. Jesus is God and knew all. He also experienced humanity, including human feelings. We are given a sample of what his despair must have been like when he sweated blood in the garden of Gethsemane. I cannot imagine what it was like for Jesus to be betrayed, abandoned by his closest friends and followers, scorned, scourged and crucified, all in less than one day. After this day of indescribable pain and suffering, culminating in three hours of hanging on a cross by nails, Jesus hit his breaking point. He was God and knew his death would result in redemption, yet he was also human. He cried out “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” (Matthew 27:46)
God the Son called out in despair. It was at that moment of crying out to his Father, as Jesus hung his head and died, that all of humanity was put on the path to redemption.
As we continue to celebrate this Easter season and Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice for us, let us remember what real strength is. We all have setbacks and times that we fall. We make mistakes, we lose our trust in God or let that trust become overshadowed by our human nature. God knows this about us. That is why he pushes us, but he is always there to catch us at that point that we feel like we cannot go on. It is when we are at that weakest point and give up control, that we are most vulnerable to God’s mighty influence. “For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10).
(Jenna Ebener graduated in 2015 with a Master of Social Work from St. Ambrose University in Davenport.)