One of my favorite hymns is “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.” The second verse begins like this: “Here I raise mine Ebenezer, hither by thy help I’m come, and I hope by thy good pleasure, safely to arrive at home.” For years I sang that song never knowing what an “Ebenezer” is. What was I raising? What was I singing? Surely the song wasn’t referring to Scrooge. So I did some investigating. It took me no time at all to find the information I was looking for, and it has greatly increased my love for the song.
In 1 Samuel 7, Samuel and the Israelites were under attack by the Philistines. The Israelites were outnumbered so they begged Samuel to pray for them. Samuel then offered a sacrifice to God and prayed for His protection. God answered Samuel’s prayers, causing the Philistines to lose the battle and retreat. “Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen, and named it Ebenezer, saying, ‘Thus far the Lord has helped us.'” (1 Samuel 7:12). In Hebrew, the word “ebenezer” means “stone of help.” Thus, the raising of the Ebenezer signifies God’s help, God’s faithfulness.
I think Samuel was onto something with the raising of the Ebenezer stone. He wisely understood the foolishness of our human hearts; he knew how forgetful we can be. He raised the Ebenezer stone as a visual reminder that the Lord is our help in time of trouble. He has proven Himself faithful to us over and over, yet we still forget. We still allow fear and doubt to creep into our hearts. We lose perspective because our minds are clouded with thoughts of “self.” We lose sight of Him and all He has done for us.
This inspired me to create my own ebenezer stones. I went to Michael’s and got a bag of smooth, flat-ish river rocks. Then on each one, using a permanent marker, I wrote ways in which the Lord has shown Himself faithful in our lives – big and small. Surely I can’t remember them all. There are times He has shown up in big ways where His hand is undeniable, but most often He shows Himself faithful in the day-to-day, in the culmination of little things that make up a life. He has provided people and things and life to point me to Him, to remind me that He is a living, active God who loves me and cares for me and has not forgotten me.
May we never forget all the ways in which He has shown Himself faithful.