Searching for Ebenezer

Toward the end of last year, I was haunted by the word “Ebenezer.” It all began when I heard it on a Christian podcast, but the speaker didn’t clarify what it meant. The word stayed in the back of my mind for days, and I wondered where I’d heard it before. My children identified it as the unusual first name of the Scrooge character in Charles Dickens’ famous novel, A Christmas Carol, but that wasn’t the Ebenezer I was looking for.

The mysterious “Ebenezer” popped up again when I visited my daughter during the holidays. There it was, written in bold letters above the entrance to a new shop in the village square. “Ebenezer” seemed to be appearing all around me, but who was he?

The answer came when I was listening to another inspirational audio. Out of the blue, the speaker mentioned the word, and also gave a Bible reference: 1 Samuel chapter 7. I looked it up right away and it turns out that in the passage, the prophet Samuel puts a rock between two places, Mizpah and Shen, after his people had won a great battle against their enemies. This rock was named—you’ve guessed it—Ebenezer, meaning “The stone of help,” and was set up in acknowledgement of and appreciation for God’s assistance. And so it turns out that “Ebenezer” wasn’t a “who” but a “what.”

I can picture myself sitting on top of that big rock. On one side, the year that has just ended, with all of its obstacles and trials and victories and joys. I look back from my vantage point and my heart fills with praise.

On the other side, the new year, full of mysteries yet to unfold. I’m filled with anticipation. If God has always come through for me in the past, surely He will in the future too!

This year, every time a sorrow or difficulty comes my way, I will strive to rely on Ebenezer, the stone of help and the rock of hope. I will make a resolution to face this new year with the expectation that the future is as bright as the promises of God! In the words of David, “I will lift up my eyes to the mountains. Where will my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.”1

  1. Psalm 121:1–2 NLV