“Here I raise my ebenezer, hither by thy help I’ve come.”
This refrain frequently finds its way into my mind. The soft melody is a sweet reminder.
Remember how the Lord has helped you, Rachel. Remember how far you’ve come. It’s Him that has brought you here.
The concept of ebenezers is kind of a funny one. In scripture, ebenezers are explained in 1 Samuel 7. The Lord provides in a big way for Israel, and Samuel grabs a stone and sets it up as a reminder that “till now the Lord has helped us” (vs. 12). He used this stone as a physical representation of what the Lord did. Something to look at and know. To remember. God will help us.
It’s no secret that seasons of our lives have been, and likely will be, filled with difficulty, pain, suffering and longing. You may be finding yourself in one of those seasons now. In the midst of our strife it’s hard and, at times almost impossible, to see that the Lord could be helping you.
How is this help?
How can my pain represent God’s goodness?
Is He really good? Is He really who He says He is?
In these moments, we forget. We are such a forgetful people, aren’t we? We forget every time the Lord has helped us thus far. Samuel was smart to realize that he needed a tangible reminder in front of him. That when things got tough again, he would see that stone and know what God had done for him. And that He will do it again.
We serve a God that does not sleep on us. “He who keeps you will not slumber” (Psalm 121:3).
Just as He has helped you until now, He will continue to do the same for all your days. He will not sleep on you. But this is hard to know, really know, in our hearts when we are struggling.
So how can we implement ebenezers into our own lives?
Here are some practical suggestions from my own striving to remember.
Make note of your ebenezers while they are happening.
Slow down and take the time to really notice what the Lord is doing when things are good. When you’re aware of the character of God, write it down. Make mental notes. Even if it’s not necessarily the most wonderful of circumstances, if you can see purpose in what the Lord is doing and how He is working it for good, take inventory of those things.
Set up your own tangible versions of ebenezers.
Like Samuel, we need something physically in front of us. Pick something you can see and touch. Something that will be in your path as a reminder. It could be a journal that you write down ebenezers in and keep on your bedside table. It could be a magnet with a verse on your fridge. One way that I have implemented physical representations is with printed photos and a sentence or two of what that ebenezer represents written on the back.
Tell others about your ebenezers and your doubts.
Share with your friends, small group, and community about the ebenzers that you see in your life. Praise the Lord in conversation with others for how He helps you. This is honoring to God, and also serves a purpose for you. It not only builds your attunement to His working in your life, but invites others in as well so that the next time you find yourself in a season of struggle, they can remind you too.
This all sounds great theoretically, but it may be hard to understand what I’m saying practically.
Here’s a small example for you.
When I was engaged to my now husband, it was easy to see that God had worked in both of our lives to bring us together. I felt so certain of our calling to marriage. I could see very specific events in our lives and characteristics in each other that were evidence of the ways that God had helped us by giving us the gift of one another. Now- engagement is not necessarily the most fun of seasons. It still brought its own challenges. We also knew that marriage would not be all warm fuzzies and happy times. But I was very aware of God’s goodness to me in that season.
So throughout that time, we did a couple things to incorporate ebenezers into our new life together. We bought a journal that sits in our living room, where we recorded memories we had of good times together and also a recollection of our wedding weekend. We also printed photos that are in frames, on the fridge, on our coffee table that serve as visual reminders of days the Lord’s goodness was particularly evident.
It didn’t even take 6 months into marriage for challenges to arise in our life. But throughout engagement we had been so intentional in reflecting on our ebenezers, noting them and building in our own version of physical representations around our home. When things have gotten cloudy for us, we see our ebenezers and are reminded that in this too, God is helping us.
On days when things are extra cloudy, and we pass our ebenezers right up, I have talked with friends about my worry. They have been faithful to remind me of all that God has done for me, and that He is going to continue to care for me no matter the circumstance.
Ebenezers shift our hearts from worry, self-sufficiency, fear, insecurity, uncertainty, and heartache to hopefulness in God’s character and Christ’s victory. These tangible reminders change the state of our own hearts, bring glory to the Lord, and shift our mindsets toward who God is.
(The above refrain is from the hymn, Come Thou Fount. This is my favorite version if you want to give it a listen: https://open.spotify.com/track/35yT30p4tPxhckJ8Lbpd6r?si=O6kattXkTiCeh8uJh0JZcQ)
If you need someone to walk alongside you to help you identify and recall the Lord’s help, we’re here. Call our offices to talk with a counselor (225) 341-4147.