Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and called the name of it Ebenezer, saying, Hitherto hath the Lord helped us. 1 Samuel 7:12 KJV
Have you ever felt that everything was against you? That you just couldn’t catch a break? I hate it when the enemy convinces us with that old familiar line, “God doesn’t care about you” like he did with Naomi in the book of Ruth.
Elimelek, Naomi and their two sons left Bethlehem and went to Moab to escape a famine. In the span of ten years, Naomi’s husband dies, her sons marry, and then they both die also. As the book opens, Naomi is trying to dissuade her daughters-in-law from going back with her to Bethlehem. In her despair, she utters these unforgettable words, “It is more bitter for me than for you, because the Lord ’s hand has turned against me!” (Ruth 1:13 NIV)
One of the daughters-in law, Ruth insists on going with her. As they arrive in Bethlehem, the whole town is stirred and they ask, “Can this be Naomi?” To which Naomi replies, “Don’t call me Naomi. Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi? The Lord has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me.” (Ruth 1:19- 21 NIV)
Naomi didn’t understand that God was meticulously coordinating one of the biggest blessings of her life! Through God’s providence, her daughter-in-law, Ruth marries Boaz and Obed is born. I love how this story ends!
The women said to Naomi: “Praise be to the Lord, who this day has not left you without a guardian-redeemer. May he become famous throughout Israel! He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. For your daughter-in-law, who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons, has given him birth.” Then Naomi took the child in her arms and cared for him.
The women living there said, “Naomi has a son!” And they named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David. (Ruth 4:14-17)
Naomi had to suffer through famine, a move to a foreign land and the death of loved ones to bring her to this place of blessing–raising a grandson who would go on to be a forefather of the Messiah! God was not against her. He had not forgotten her. He was planning something great!
The Bible is full of examples of men and women who experienced great suffering. God was not against them nor had he forgotten them either! He was strategically planning blessings for them! Job, Abraham, Joseph, Hannah, David, Daniel, Esther, Zachariah and Elizabeth. God gave us these examples in His Word to get us through our difficult situations. “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.” (Romans 15:4 NIV)
A few years ago, I came across this modern-day story which illustrates how God can use our suffering to bring about something good.
At 8 years old, Jessica Forsyth broke her collarbone when her brother pushed her off a merry-go-round. Five years later, when she was 14 years old, she fell off her bike and broke her collarbone again. This time, the bone split in half. Her injury was so severe that doctors used a titanium plate about the length of a pencil to heal the fracture. What the young girl did not know was that her injuries and suffering would one day save her life.
As she grew older she began to date a boy. Soon after the relationship began, her boyfriend started having abrupt mood swings. The on-again-off-again relationship went sour and ended in a breakup. One March day she agreed to meet one last time so she could retrieve some keepsakes. They met and the boy began going through his backpack. Off-guard, Forsyth thought the boy was looking for the keepsake but instead he took out a gun and shot her. After shooting Forsyth four times with a powerful .44-caliber Magnum pistol, the boy turned the gun on himself. Forsyth was flown by helicopter to a nearby hospital but the ex-boyfriend did not make it.
At the hospital, Dr. Greg Casey, a trauma surgeon, pointed out on Forsyth’s X-ray that one .44-caliber bullet that was en route to her major blood vessels, spine and heart had been blocked by the 6-inch titanium plate in her collarbone. SOURCE
Recently, I received a phone call with very disappointing news and Oh My Lanta, (got that from my friend Colleen 🙂 ) there was the enemy with the same line messing with my mind. “God doesn’t care what happens to you!” I went straight to the Word. The daily reading happened to be in 1 Samuel 7. The Philistines were coming after the Israelites to do battle. All of Israel repented of their sin and Samuel offered Sacrifices and cried out to the Lord on their behalf. The Bible says that while Samuel was sacrificing the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near but the Lord thundered with loud thunder and it sent them in such a panic that they were routed and the Israelites defeated them. (1 Samuel 7:10-11)
“Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and called the name of it Ebenezer, saying, Hitherto hath the Lord helped us.” (1 Samuel 7:12 KJV) I love this verse and the word, “hitherto“! Other translations render this word, “thus far“, “up to this point” or “until now“. Up to this point, God has always helped us.
May Ebenezer be written upon our hearts, reminding us that even in our suffering, God’s is faithful. In the fiery trials, may we persevere and know that God hitherto has not failed us and is working everything out for our good. (Romans 8:28) LH