We have more strength than we can imagine when we call on God


By Jenna Ebener

This past summer, I had the pleasure of experiencing the majesty of some of the redwoods in northern California. As I stood among these 2,000-year-old giants, I could not help but think of our Creator. God created these magnificent trees to be so hardy that they can withstand fire, winds and insects that have demolished other types of trees.

Jenna Ebener stands near a giant redwood during a trip to northern California this past summer.

Some of the redwoods that were tiny saplings when Jesus walked our earth are now over 75 feet in circumference and hundreds of feet tall. Walking among these giants was an escape from reality for me. It was so easy to become immersed in the glory of God’s creation and be present in the moment. I took in the sight of root systems wider than my body, new trees growing on fallen trees and trunks that made me look like an ant. I smelled the moss and the dirt. I felt the rough bark and soft ferns. Above all, I remembered that if God had the foresight to create trees that can last thousands of years, how much more thought he must have put into designing humans!

On the surface, it might be hard to compare humans to those almost indestructible redwoods. Human bodies can seem so fragile; easily ravished by illness or disabilities and lasting such a short time in comparison to God’s other creations. Yet, our bodies truly are miracles, especially in the ways they can adapt.


People who do not have sight develop heightened hearing, children who have had the language center of their brains removed to stop seizures learn to speak, and parents who were told their children would never walk see them run and play sports. Our bodies may not be infallible, yet God has created us with a strength that can help us surmount all expectations. We may feel limited, but we are not alone.

St. Paul reminds us, “For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10). If we keep our eyes on God, we will realize there is always a solution to seemingly impossible challenges. The path and even the result may not be what we expect but it will be better than we could have imagined.

I have worked with countless students who have shown me the true meaning of strength. These students have bodies that many people consider broken. They cannot eat food orally, speak or walk. For some, even moving their head or a finger takes an incredible amount of energy. Some of them do not have facial expressions or tear ducts and others have seizures so strong that they have to sleep for hours afterward. Yet, their will to live and connect with others is so strong that they find ways to make their voices heard.

They do not have the luxury of trying to make themselves understood through long sentences and expressive body language. Yet, they make their intentions clear by one word on a communication system, prolonged eye contact or an arm reaching out for a hug. I can only imagine the frustration they experience as others invariably miss or misread their cues but they never stop trying.

These students are the ones I think of when I am struggling. I have so many more tools that I can easily access and if they can persevere, so can I and so can you. God created each of us with the same care taken to create the majesties of our world. We have more strength than we can imagine, if only we remember to call on him.

“Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you” (Matthew 17:20).

(Jenna Ebener, a graduate of St. Ambrose University in Davenport, is a social worker at a school in Colorado for students with a combination of medical, cognitive and behavior disabilities.)

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