You have heard of Ebenezer Scrooge, the miserly character in Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” Scrooge has no no need for Christmas. He found the whole Christmas season utterly disgusting.
Before I ever heard of Ebenezer Scrooge and Dicken’s “A Christmas Carol,” I heard my mom walking around the house singing the old hymn “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.” It’s a hymn that thanks God for the many blessings in life.
The second verse of the song begins, “Here I raise my Ebenezer, hither by thy help I’ve come.” Hearing that as a boy, I had no idea what Ebenezer met, and I don’t ever remember speaking with my mom about it either.
Only as an adult did I come to realize that the word Ebenezer comes from I Samuel chapter 7 where the Israelites found themselves under attack by the Philistines. Fearing for their lives they begged the prophet Samuel to pray for them. Samuel offered a sacrifice and prayed, and the Philistines retreated.
We then read: “Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen, and called its name Ebenezer, saying, ‘Thus far, the Lord has helped us.'” (I Samuel 7:12)
Ebenezer is a combination of the Hebrew word for stone (Eben) and the Hebrew word for helper (Ezer). So an Ebenezer was a stone that offered some sort of help. It would have been a monument that reminded the Israelites of the help they have received along the way. It sort of reminds me of driving out in the western part of the United States and coming along small monuments along the roadside. Often there is a pull-out where you can sit read about the significance of why that particular monument has been placed there. You might, say, read that the original pioneers traveling in that particular way used this or that mountain to help them navigate their way.
Writer Mark Roberts says that in Charles Dickens’ story Ebenezer Scrooge was not only the miserly, selfish character in the story. Roberts thinks Dickens intended for Scrooge to remind us of things we ought not to forget, lest we end up like Jacob Marley and the other spirits who walked the earth in sorrow, dragging the heavy chains they forged in life.
Do you have any Ebenezers in your your life? How about an Ebener who is an actual person? Do you have someone in your life who reminds you to be joyful and generous? Or maybe your have an actual helping stone in your life, a physical object that reminds you of God’s faithfulness when your life gets crazy.
Maybe today God is calling you to be an Ebenezer for someone. That’s right. You will be the Ebenezer for someone. You will be that sign of grace for someone who really needs it. Someone needs to see joy and generosity flowing from you. The fruits of the Holy Spirit flowing from your life will give them the hope they so need.
Through you someone will have found a “stone of help” and will indeed raise their Ebenezer.