by Marilynn Chadwick Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the Lord has helped us” (1 Samuel 7:12 NIV). The Bible tells how the Children of Israel came back to God after many years of wandering. They began to copy the evil behavior of the pagan people around them and even started to worship the demon gods of their enemies—sometimes sacrificing their own babies! Finally, they’d had enough. They were sick and tired of the consequences of their rebellion. Sick and tired of fear and failure. Sick and tired of feeling like they were under a curse. They had forgotten how to pray so they asked their leader Samuel to pray for them. Samuel called them together to confess their sins. Then, he challenged them to commit to following God with their whole heart. Above all, he warned, they must stop their wicked worship of pagan idols. While Samuel was still praying, their mortal enemy, the Philistines, launched a surprise attack. But instead of fighting back, the people pleaded with Samuel to keep praying. I can imagine how they all began to cry out with the prayer that gets God’s attention. “Help!” The Lord rushed to their rescue and brought fierce thunder and lightning from heaven that day. The entire Philistine army was terrified and thrown into such confusion that the Israelites defeated them and won a thrilling victory. Samuel took a large stone and placed it as a monument in their town. He named it Ebenezer (which means “the stone of help”). “This marks the place where the Lord has helped us!” He wanted them to always remember how God gave them victory and to never drift from Him again (1 Samuel 7:12, MSG). The word Ebenezer comes from two Hebrew words. Eben, which means “stone or rock” and ezer, which means “help or support.” That’s why an Ebenezer is a “stone of help.” Even to this day, people sometimes use the word Ebenezer to commemorate an important victory. I don’t know about you, but my faith grows when I hear stories of God’s power. And when I personally experience a miracle, my faith seems to soar! Over the years, I’ve collected spiritual mementos of my own victories—my Ebenezer Stones. Photos, small artifacts, scraps of paper, pages of my journal, little bits of “this and that” point me back to times when God showed himself strong or interrupted the ordinary flow of daily life with a miracle. When that happened, it seemed important to pause and thank God. Then, to preserve the evidence. These little reminders help me hold onto my faith when answers to my prayers are slow in coming or when life gets really messy. My “Ebenezer Stones” remind me that nothing is impossible with God. You see, it’s not enough to simply witness God’s miracles. We also have to remember them. No wonder the word remember occurs about 400 times in the Bible!
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