Links Daily Devotional

What God Has Done

Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen and called its name Ebenezer; for he said, “Till now the LORD has helped us.” (1 Samuel 7:12, ESV)

Golfers are good at remembering. We remember that one shot during the round giving us reason to return to the course once again. We can recall the amazing trouble shot, the one we had no business attempting, which scooted around the tree and onto the green. I remember countless shots I hit around the world that spans over 25 years with great detail: the pitching wedge out of the rough to two inches to win the Indonesian Open; the deep bunker shot on one knee to save par in England; a two-foot par putt to shoot 63; the 7-iron over water for my first hole-in-one.

I also find that there are many great moments I have forgotten, both intentionally and unintentionally. As I gain a deeper understanding about the performance mask I hid behind for portions of my career, forgetting the really good and the really bad moments was my way of coping with the emotional highs and lows of my world. This forgetting, however, created a vacuum within my heart, leaving me emotionally empty and at times hopeless.

When we stop and remember God’s faithfulness in our story, our faith and trust in the one we follow—Jesus—opens space for our hearts to be hopeful.More recently, my faith journey with the Lord has included learning the importance of remembering. At a seminar not too long ago, the speaker defined faith as confidence in the goodness of God, and further suggested that our trust in God increases when we stop to remember his faithfulness in the past. Paul writes in his letter to the Hebrews, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). We can’t foresee the future, but we can look back and remember when God showed his love, care and provision for us. As we name these moments, our hope for what is yet to come has reason to expand.

Today’s Scripture passage takes us back to the prophet Samuel who was judge over the Israelites during a time when they were battered by the Philistines and worshipped false gods. After 20 years, the people lamented their troubles and pleaded with the Lord for help. While all of Israel gathered at Mizpah to fast and offer their sacrifice, Samuel cried out to the Lord on behalf of the people. When the Philistines drew near to attack, the Lord caused confusion among them, allowing the Israelites to strike them down.

In the wake of this victory, Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He called the stone “Ebenezer,” meaning stone of help. God gathered his people at Mizpah, his watchtower, and revealed his real and holy presence in their time of need.

Samuel offers an example where we too can remember and mark our own Ebenezer(s) as a reminder of God’s love and real presence coming to meet us in our time of need. When we stop and remember God’s faithfulness in our story, our faith and trust in the one we follow—Jesus—opens space for our hearts to be hopeful.

My most precious Ebenezer is a ring I wear with the Hebrew inscription that means beauty for ashes (Isaiah 61:3). Every day I am reminded that on a cold afternoon in Lake Michigan, I buried my disdain for my femininity and with the help of two trusted men, I came out of the water claiming my beauty as a woman loved and adored by God. What might one of your Ebenezers be?

Tracy Hanson

November 12, 2015

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The Links Daily Devotional appears Monday-Friday at www.linksplayers.com.