As present day Christians, we too need to from time to time raise up an Ebenezer in recognition of God’s great works of preserving and deliverance in our lives, both individually and as a local body of believers. And so it is fitting as we embark together into the year 2016 to take opportunity to echo Samuel’s words, “Thus far the Lord has helped us.”
First, just think back a little over this past year and consider the many ways God has protected and kept you safe during the past year. Recall times when you felt that you might have given way under great pressures, conflicts or afflictions. Perhaps circumstances even seemed hopeless. In the Bible we read that Jacob once cried out, “Everything is against me!” (Genesis 42:36) after his sons returned from Egypt with the news that his son Simeon had been taken hostage by a strange Egyptian ruler, who now was demanding another son, Benjamin, to be brought to him. Much earlier, Jacob lost his beloved son Joseph, and these latest events were too much for him. Little did he know then that not only would Simeon and Benjamin be safe, but the entire family would be preserved from famine in Egypt by none other than Joseph himself! Jacob could look back and realize that instead of saying everything was against him, he should have said, “Everything is for me!” Indeed, let us all take opportunity to look back over this past year, and see God’s merciful, guiding and protecting hand. Let us say with Samuel, “Thus far the Lord has helped us.”
Now secondly, since we are able to look back and see God’s footsteps, we can confidently look ahead into the unknown future, unknown only in circumstances, but fully known in God’s mighty provision for His children. As you know, King David was sorely tested by God in his life and sometimes felt that God had completely given him up.
During one such time, he wrote in Psalm 42:7, “All Your waves and billows have gone over me... I will say to God my Rock, why have you forgotten me?” But he also took counsel with himself by saying, “I will remember You from the land of Jordan... The Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night His song shall be with me.” (v.6) And so, even though his circumstances were oppressive, he could see with eyes of faith how God’s grace had sustained him and would continue to see him through in the future. Thus he wrote, “Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God.” (v.11)
We too can look ahead to the coming days with the expectation that God will remain ever faithful. He will complete that which He has begun in our hearts, with a view towards bringing us into perfect conformity to the image of His beloved Son, Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.
The beloved hymn writer Fanny Crosby penned these words over 100 years ago, and they are as true now as when they were first written;
All the way my Savior leads me; what have I to ask beside?
Can I doubt his tender mercy, who through life has been my guide?
Heav’nly peace, divinest comfort, here by faith in him to dwell;
for I know, whate’er befall me, Jesus doeth all things well.
All the way my Savior leads me - O the fullness of His love!
Perfect rest to me is promised in my Father’s house above:
when my spirit, clothed, immortal, wings its flight to realms of day,
this my song through endless ages: Jesus led me all the way!
Brothers and Sisters, let us joyfully raise our Ebenezer and confidently proclaim, “Thus far the Lord has helped us”!