The Uncle Ben Moment
By Anthony Casperson
I recently posted this on my personal Facebook account:
“There are times when I am excited that my experiences have given me credibility when I write or talk about dealing with depression and the depths. But then there are times I feel very much the hypocrite because of how often I struggle with those experiences. Today is one of the latter.”
Being completely honest here, there are times when this calling is too much for me by myself. Struggling with depression while trying to show others the joy of being with Jesus even in the depths makes me feel like a hypocrite. It’s one of those places where I question, “Can people trust what I say if I struggle so much with this?”
I look around and start to question if what I’ve written and spoken has made any difference in the lives of others. Would the world be any different if I’d never attempted to live up to my life’s calling?
Questioning like this made me think about the Spiderman No More storyline found in Amazing Spiderman #50. In the comic, Peter Parker begins questioning his place as a hero. Feeling despised and hated as a vigilante, he questions his heroic call. The web-slinger decides that his time as Spiderman was merely a childhood fantasy and throws away his spidey suit in the iconic picture above.
This storyline has been repeated or paid homage to in several places. It was a major plot point in Spiderman 2. Also, a small flicker of it can be seen in The Amazing Spiderman 2. (I guess Spiderman sequels like the story of Peter questioning his role as the wall-crawler.) Even in the game Sentinels of the Multiverse, the character Setback pays homage to this on his incapacitated side. (Also shown above.)
At this time, Spidey forgets the very thing that caused him to become the hero we all know and love. The phrase that I'm sure most of you can quote with me right now. “With great power comes great responsibility.” Peter Parker took on the mantle of Spiderman so that no one else would lose a loved one as he had his Uncle Ben. Forsaking the Spiderman persona causes Peter to play the hypocrite as he abandons his uncle’s guiding statement.
After taking some time away from being Spiderman, Peter comes across a man being robbed. Helping the man, the spidey-suit-less Peter looks into the face of the man he had just saved and is reminded of his uncle. The memory of his uncle washes over him and causes him to rise back to the calling given him on that fateful day when a radioactive spider bit him.
In my depressed state, I resonated with the desire to throw away the calling on my life given on its own fateful day. The desire to quit it all rose from within. But then I came face to face with my own Uncle Ben moment.
I prayed, “God, when will I be done with this darkness? Why can’t you just let me experience life in the lighter side of hope?” I asked God for the billionth time that he would just take my depression away. His words were a reminder of Paul in 2 Cor. 12.
There, Paul spoke of a thorn in the flesh that kept his head from getting too big from all of the blessings God had given to him. Three times, Paul asked God to take it from him. (Apparently, Paul got the message faster than I did.) And the response was, “My grace is sufficient.”
“I know your grace is sufficient God, but I'm tired of this. And waiting any longer doesn’t seem to help me from feeling like a hypocrite.” My head and my heart were not in sync with this answer from God. But the push to this phrase made me look at the words contained within the entire passage.
Second Corinthians 12:9 reads, “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (italics mine). The concept of God’s strength being shown forth in weakness has been a guiding thought in dealing with the depths for me. (Anyone who’s read most of the other blogs here can surely see that to be true.)
My weaknesses keep me from thinking that I can handle the mess of this world on my own. It’s only because of the power of Jesus that joy can be found in the depths, that beauty can be seen in the darkness. It was my Uncle Ben moment. I needed to be reminded of what caused me to take on this mantle of ministry.
To give up in this calling would be to forsake the people who need to be shown that the depths isn’t a place to be escaped, but rather a place that we obediently follow Jesus as he protects us in the darkness. To give up on this calling would be the true act of hypocrisy.
So, what is the calling given to you by God on “that fateful day”? Have you risen to the mantle? Or is the suit in the garbage? Do you need an Uncle Ben moment to remind you of what your calling was all about? Let God speak to you in that voice of reminder as he speaks the words that led you to your calling in the first place.
I don’t know what those words are for anybody other than myself, but I know that God can speak the right words even if I can’t. I trust him to show his power in my weakness.
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