Locations & Times

Raise Your Ebenezer

It’s the season of thankfulness. But what happens when we forget things we should be thankful for? And how can we stay grateful to the giver of all good things?

by John Mehl on November 07, 2022

Robert Robinson came from a very troubled upbringing.

His father died at an early age, and in the 1750s living in Norfolk, his mother had a tough time providing for the family. In the midst of all of the challenges that came with such a life, he fell in with a rough crowd.

But as is the case with each soul reading this right now, God would use anything and anyone to draw Robert to Him. A string of events led Robert to an event where George Whitefield was preaching, and the message struck him to his core. That night changed Robert Robinson’s life — and his eternity — and he never forgot it.

When you think back on pivotal events in your life like these, an immense sensation of thankfulness can well up. Personally, I recall looking back on the trajectory of my own life, superficially driven by popularity and selfish pursuits. It was in my middle and high school years that I recall the path of my life heading in a truly self-centered and sinful direction. When the work of the Spirit truly redirected my life in the summer between my sophomore and junior years, everything began to change! 

Like Robert Robinson, I look back on those series of events as life-changing and eternity-changing. I find myself overwhelmed with thankfulness and gratitude for all the ways God saved me!

We know Robert Robinson’s name today because he wrote a timeless song called “Come Thou Fount Of Every Blessing.” In the hymn, he wrote, “Here I raise my Ebenezer.” An ‘Ebenezer” is a biblical concept referring to stones that would be assembled together to honor something great that the Lord had done. Ebenezer stones would be unnaturally stacked so whenever people would ask about why they are there and assembled in that way, it would create another occasion to tell about the great things that the Lord did. 

This hymn, "Come Thou Fount,” served as Robinson’s Ebenezer. It was an opportunity to remember and celebrate that God plucked him out of a life of sin and set him on a path of salvation and joy for the rest of his life and throughout eternity. Thankfulness and gratitude!

Surrounded by big-time holidays, this time of year tends to stir thankfulness and gratitude in so many people’s lives. It’s often true for the people of the church, as well as people not (yet) a part of the church. Whether it is a time for reflecting back on the past calendar year, gathering together over extravagant feasts, or generously extending blessings through food drives or gift-giving, thankfulness can pervade throughout the world around us. What an onramp we have to “raise our Ebenezer” in faith!

Remember what God has done in your life. Recall the ways in which he has blessed you and changed you and protected you and provided for you. These remembrances are especially important when we face trials and hardships. God’s blessing and faithfulness does not necessarily mean everything will be easy, comfortable, or clear. But remembering the ways that he has been undeniably present and active can serve as a foundation on which our endurance can be built.

I’m not always great at this.

There was a time a handful of years ago when a serious back injury left me couch-ridden in serious pain. One day I needed to get up and pick up my daughter from school, and as I prepared to get up, I asked God to help me with the pain. Rising up from the couch, I found that the debilitating pain that left me on the couch for days was completely gone! Without medicine or procedure, I was pain-free! I told my wife that I wanted to call the local news station and shout from the rooftops what great things the Lord has done for me.

I share that story in this context because my wife recently asked me about it, and I found that I could hardly remember the story at all. How shameful! How could such a powerful and memorable work of the Lord just fade away to the point that I barely remember it at all? 

Thankfully, my wife and I have discussed and revisited the mighty work of the Lord to the point that I do remember it and resume my gratitude for it. We reconstructed that Ebenezer.

What are the Ebenezers across your life? Are there reminders in photos or keepsakes that you come across that serve as opportunities to tell others stories about God’s work in your life? Are there Ebenezers that, like mine, might need to be rebuilt?

Even some of the facets of social media can be repurposed as Ebenezers. Facebook regularly pops up reminders of things that happened “On this day…” years ago. Those can be Ebenezers that we can easily share. Or, take some time to scroll through your own posts — you might find opportunities for thankfulness and gratitude there that you may have forgotten.

Whenever we raise our Ebenezer, we exercise our spiritual muscles. We develop our strength to be used in times of need because times of need don’t stop coming. Praising and singing through every season is a practice of strength for the believer and a weapon that tears down the efforts of the enemy.

Keep raising up your Ebenezers! Keep reminders and conversation-starters all around you so that the great blessings of the Lord would not fade over time. Let us praise the good and faithful one for ALL that he has done!

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