Memories weave our past with our present, and connect yesterday with today and tomorrow. When we're celebrating any kind of occasion, we remember the people who, over the years, have been there for us, supporting and encouraging us, making this day possible. When we're facing challenges, we're prompted to reach out to those who have helped us in the past—those we can rely on to be there for us today.
A Visual Reminder of God's Faithfulness
On the battlefield, where years ago they had suffered defeat, Israel pled with God for help, and he granted them a miraculous victory. Their priest and leader, Samuel, set up a monument to remind them of God's strong hand in their triumph, and Samuel named the pillar Ebenezer, saying, "Thus far the LORD has helped us" (1 Sam. 7:12). This stone pillar called God's people to recall, and recall often, the time when God turned events from bad to blessed.
Learn more through: Church History: The Early Church & Middle Ages.
Each time an Israelite saw the Ebenezer stone, they remembered God's help in the past, God's help relied on today, and God's help assured for tomorrow. The Ebenezer was a "picture" of the Lord's readiness to hear their cries and save them, and it served to remind them where to turn for their strength and power—and whom to thank for their deliverance.
A Written Reminder of God's Faithfulness
Just as the Ebenezer stone called God's people to remember, the psalmists built a similar monument with words. They reached back into the history of God's people and named the marvelous things God had done, the many ways God had delivered them from their enemies, and all the times he forgave their disobedience. The reminders are specific: Didn't God lead you out of bondage in Egypt? Didn't he feed you in the desert and keep doing so, even though you grumbled and complained? Didn't he forgive your repeated idolatry and rampant rebelliousness? Didn't God give your army victory after victory over your enemies? And if he did so much for you in times past, can't you depend on him to do as much, if not more, for you today? And why are you worrying about tomorrow? Won't he still be there for you, hearing your pleas for help, acting on your behalf?
"I will utter hidden things, things from of old," the psalmist said, "things we have heard and known, things our ancestors have told us" (Ps. 78:2-3)—to help you remember … to remind you of God's power … to give you trust and confidence in him … to teach you to lean on him … to be your Ebenezer for as long as you live this side of heaven.
Your Personal Ebenezer
Unlike the commemorative pillar erected by Samuel, your Ebenezer—your stone of help—requires neither hammer nor chisel. You don't need to sit down and pen eloquent songs, as the psalmists did, either. To create your personal Ebenezer, all you need to do is mentally page through your spiritual memory album and recall the many and varied victories God has given you.
You might begin by remembering the gifts of life, parents, home, health, education, and family. Your memories could include the blessings of friends, livelihood, community, and nation. But, especially, remember certain events in your life—times when God turned what appeared to be disaster into an unexpected opportunity, or when he took you through hardship so you could gain the gifts of maturity and wisdom. Your personal Ebenezer turns you away from fear, doubt, and disbelief today, because you realize once again how many times in the past God has forgiven, protected, and healed you.