By Jenna Ebener
It is likely that the word “COVID-19” conjures many images. Masks, social distancing, loss, burden or fear are just a few that may come to your mind. Is miracle one of them? The miracles we often hear about on news stories or movies are the big ones, such as a mother being miraculously healed of a brain tumor or a child found after being lost for a week. Do we notice the little miracles that are happening every day?
When concerns about COVID-19 kick-started in mid-March, life drastically changed in a matter of days. I went from working at a school in Colorado with students who are significantly impacted by cognitive and medical needs to trying to figure out how to meet their unique needs via my laptop. As challenging as that was, always in the back of my mind was the thought that COVID-19 was a blessing in disguise for me.
For countless months, I have been desperately asking God to heal me of my ever-increasing burnout and to show me what I need. While I knew he would answer my plea, I never imagined that part of the answer would be living back home with my parents in Illinois for three months during the school year.
Yet, that is exactly where God placed me. Within days of learning that our school was switching to remote learning, after praying, I decided to be with my family during this turbulent time, taking our school’s facility dog, Gregory, with me. What I thought might be a two-week trip quickly turned into three months. While remote learning caused me to work harder than ever, I cannot describe how healing it was for me to be with my family.
Having to stay at home allowed me to do things I have not done in years. I played baseball and basketball with my dad; I watched movies with my family, and I played games and completed puzzles with my grandma. While I thirst to receive Jesus in holy Communion, there was something profoundly special about being able to watch Mass every Sunday with my grandma.
Working remotely also provided some unique opportunities. I realize that, while in-person learning is by far most effective, we can still make an impact by how we handle these challenges. A large part of my role shifted to sharing resources, and that snowballed into chances to share my faith with coworkers. Even Gregory made an impact on others. Our daily encouraging videos on “Gregory’s Corner” lifted up countless coworkers, families and even friends outside of our school.
Were all of these little events miracles? My answer is yes. Miracles do not always need to be grand. Yes, they defy nature, but ultimately what they are based on is a deep faith in God. In the Gospel of Mark, we hear about how Jesus went to his hometown to teach. However, they doubted him. As a result, Jesus “could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. He was amazed at their lack of faith” (Mark 6:5-6). It is astonishing to me that Jesus, the omnipotent Son, did not have the power to perform miracles. The answer lies in the people, in us. Jesus does have the power; however, we need to cooperate with God. It is our faith and trust in God that allows him to channel his power into miraculous events, no matter the size.
I asked Jesus for healing and peace and he answered in a way I never would have imagined. In turn, I was able to help others in unique ways. The beauty is that we do not need to see the answer. We simply have to ask. “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7).
(Jenna Ebener, who has a Master of Social Work from St. Ambrose University in Davenport, is a social worker at a school in Colorado for students with disabilities.)
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