How an Ebenezer Can Help Christians Remember God's Faithfulness
"Here I raise my Ebenezer." Have you ever considered the lyrics to this famous hymn before? As I child, I pictured us literally holding up Ebenezer Scrooge. But then, after encountering several Old Testament Bible lessons, I discovered an Ebenezer stone in the Old Testament has an entirely different meaning.
Whenever God performed a miraculous act or proved his faithfulness, people in the Old Testament would often stack stones to create a memorial for what God had done. So that whenever future generations passed by the Ebenezer, they could ask their parents about what took place here.
So what does the Old Testament practice have to do with Christianity?
Today, we'll explore how Christians can create an Ebenezer to remember God's faithfulness in all seasons.
What Does the Bible Say about Ebenezer Stones?
God showed his power again and again in the Old Testament, so we have plenty of examples of times when people would stack stones in honor of something that he did.
Genesis 28:11: "So Jacob rose early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on its top."
Joshua 4:8: "Thus the sons of Israel did as Joshua commanded, and took up twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan, just as the Lord spoke to Joshua, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Israel; and they carried them over with them to the lodging place and put them down there."
1 Samuel 7:12: "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.”
In addition, Ebenezer was also a place in the Bible as well. The name Ebenezer means "stone of help."
Sometimes in our most dire moments, we can forget all the times that God has come through faithfully for us. Hence why the practice of these stones of help could serve as a reminder that God has yet to fail his people.
So let's explore some ways that we can set up an Ebenezer, a reminder, in our lives for how God has helped us.
What Are Some Modern Examples of Ebenezers?
We all have different ways in which we remember God's faithfulness. Although the list below is not comprehensive, they can give some ideas of how Christians memorialize God's good acts in their past.
Journals: Many Christians will keep a prayer journal or a catalog of events that happened within the day. I personally keep one and have done so since June of last year. Whenever I find myself despairing in my present circumstances, I reread through older passages and see how God answered prayers in my past. It helps to remind me that God will not abandon me now in Sheol.
Tattoos: Although embroiled in controversy within the church, many Christians do get tattoos to remember a dark time in their life where God came through for them. Many will get a Bible verse or a cross or another meaningful symbol to recognize how God carried them through difficult moments.
Any Physical Reminder of a Spiritual Act of God in the Past: I've seen people use literal stones as Ebenezers. Some also may use photobooks as a reminder of how God moved faithfully in the past. I've even witnessed people share memories on Facebook as a way to recall all those Ebenezer moments.
There is no one right way to remember God and how he has moved in your life. But I do highly encourage creating a physical reminder. That way, when the world pulls out from underneath you in difficult moments, you can have something to look to and recall.
Let's explore why Christians should set up an Ebenezer.
Why Should Christians Set up an Ebenezer/Reminder?
In times of trouble, we can often forget.
I think about Peter on the waves with Jesus (Matthew 14). In one moment, he sees the face of our Savior and walks unabashedly forward. But in another instant, he looks away and sees the storm. Within seconds, he has forgotten God's goodness, and he begins to sink.
We often can poke fun at Peter, but when we analyze our own lives, I think most of us can assert that the moment things go bad, we forget. Therefore, we should set up a reminder.
It helps us to remember when we forget.
Because we will forget. Our emotions will cloud our judgment and we will wonder where God has gone in the midst of our current storm.
It reminds us that God will come through in our current circumstances.
I don't know if you've ever said this, but I certainly have, "I just don't think God is going to come through for me this time." It sounds ridiculous, especially when you consider the enormity of power our God has. But when we feel abandoned, the Ebenezer can remind us that God isn't only the God of our past. But of our present, and of our future.
It reminds us to express gratitude to God.
How often do we fail to thank God when he comes through for us? I think about the story of the lepers that Jesus heals. He provides lasting healing for 10 of them, but only one returned to thank him, a Samaritan at that (the enemies of God's people at the time; Luke 17:11-19). The Ebenezer helps us to remember to thank God in all circumstances.
It reminds us to tell others about God.
Want an easy way to start a topic about evangelism? Have an Ebenezer. I cannot mention the number of times someone has asked a Christian what their tattoo meant, and this provided a witnessing opportunity for them to share the Gospel.When God moves in big ways, you cannot help but share about it with friends and family. So set up an Ebenezer today and praise God for all the moments in your life where you see his fingerprints.
Photo credit: ©Getty Images/stereostok
Hope Bolinger is an acquisitions editor at End Game Press, and the author 21+ books. More than 1400 of her works have been featured in various publications. Check out her books at hopebolinger.com for clean books in most genres, great for adults and kids.