He named it Ebenezer…..(1 Sam 7:12)
I have lots of t-shirts. Many of them I don’t wear. In fact, I had my mom make a t-shirt mural for me. To me, these shirts serve as remembrance stones of all the great things God has done. There have been mission trips, outreach events, and fall retreats. All of them significant and special to me. Behind each of these shirts are reminders of the relationships that were built or deepened with a group of people I dearly love.
As Israel went before the Phillistines in battle at Mizpah with Samuel interceding for them in prayer, God was with Israel. That day, they corporately repented. They did away with their false gods and their hearts returned fully to the Lord. Now, with the power of God, the Phillistines didn’t stand a chance. God ushered in victory. Israel responded by setting up a remembrance stone naming it, “Ebenezer,” which means “stone of help.”
Although, there are often great memories in life, some things, places and people remind us of memories we’d rather not recall. There’s a chill to the bone when bad memories resurface, but this is the place where God wants to replace our heart of stone with His, “stone of help.”
The purpose of pain is not to turn our hearts hard, but to bring them towards greater victory. Pain is an unfortunate reality of life in a sinful world. Jesus experienced excruciating pain. He understands.
There is a place God wants all believers to go, it is the place of being made new. God wants to transform our hearts. He longs for us to be healed from our past. He will often put us in places that will bring to mind those painful memories of the past we’d much rather forget. He is not cruel in doing this, but instead, He is immensely kind and loving. His “Ebenezer” wishes to meet us there if we would be willing to lay down our hurt, let Him soften our hardened hearts and take up HIs “stone of help.”
Jesus, sometimes when I am reminded of pain, I get angry. I get discouraged and I don’t want to deal with it. Yet, you long to set me free from the places of pain. You are my “stone of help.” Jesus, thank you for your saving love. Thank you that your heart is near to me. Thank you that your love sustains me and makes me new. You are my greatest joy. You are my Ebenezer, amen.