My father-in-law died this week, a little more than a year since my mother-in-law passed. The year without his beloved Rose Marie was torture for him. He spoke of her often and of his desire to be united with her.
He left peacefully on a Tuesday evening, surrounded by his children. My sad, sweet husband was there, along with his two sisters.
I was back at our home when he died. That day I kept focusing on the word hitherto. My brain kept mulling it over. It’s mentioned more than a dozen times in the Bible and when used as an adjective means up to this time; as yet; until now.
The hitherto that struck me that day was in 1 Samuel 7:12. In this passage, Israel had won a victory over the Philistines and to commemorate the victory, Samuel set up a stone between Mizpah and Jeshanah and called it Ebenezer which means “the stone of help.” All would remember that the Lord had helped them win the victory, that hitherto the Lord had helped them, led them, gave them victory.
Far from an historian or scholar, I like to imagine the thought processes and responses of characters to events in the Bible. In this instance, I imagine Samuel pointing to the Ebenezer and saying, “Heck yes, and don’t you forget it!”
I am so short sighted. In times of trial, I rely on my own understanding. I need my own Ebenezer to remind me of all the times of the Lord’s faithfulness, all the instances he has made Himself known, been faithful and carried me through.
Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing is a cherished hymn I’ve sung countless times. The second verse goes like this:
Here I raise my Ebenezer;
Hither by Thy help I’ve come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it;
Seal it for Thy courts above.
With a heart that is prone to wander, I forget. I forget that the Lord is, has been and will be my hope and my help.
Hitherto through life and death, sadness, loss, craziness, uncertainty, confusion, joy and despair. And hitherto He will be with me through all that this crazy life has to yet unfold.
Can you make a list of the Hithertos in your life? Maybe write a word for each and write them on your own stones? So you will have an Ebenezer to remind you of the outrageous privilege we have of being loved by a faithful God.
Because we forget.