7 When the Philistines heard that Israel had assembled at Mizpah, the rulers of the Philistines came up to attack them. When the Israelites heard of it, they were afraid because of the Philistines. 8 They said to Samuel, “Do not stop crying out to the Lord our God for us, that he may rescue us from the hand of the Philistines….He cried out to the Lord on Israel’s behalf, and the Lord answered him.” I Samuel 7: 7-9
I suspect that this was the same way it was just a few years ago in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Fire was sweeping the mountainsides and the people were told to get out as quickly as they could. The entire town and the surrounding mountains looked like a towering inferno and there was no way that the fire could be stopped anytime soon. (http://www.wymt.com/content/news/Gatlinburg-wildfires-A-minute-by-minute-account-of-the-deadly-firestorm-433487603.html). I am quite certain that there were those who were praying harder and harder to save the town.
Recently visiting the area for the second time in 4 months, I was amazed at the differences that had occurred within that time frame. Hillsides in very small ways were starting to become green again, although it was obvious that it would be a long time for the area to lose the visual reminders that were still so pronounced.
As we drove to our destination, I was amazed at the areas that had become completely healed, while areas such as the picture illustrates lands that are slowly returning to something resembling normal. In the story of Samuel appealing to God to intervene and save the people, indeed God did intervene. The people were able to defeat the Philistines and Samuel set a rock in this place to help remind them what the Lord had done.
Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the Lord has helped us.”
As we drove to our destination in Gatlinburg, nearing the home where we were staying, one mountain resort area that had tremendous damage had built their own stone reminder.
This served as a great reminder to me, that though the storms may be raging around me or within me, “Thus far, the Lord has helped me.” I may not always feel that way, but believing God is not about feelings, it is about faith and the knowledge that God has helped me survive. What has God brought you through that you can recall when things get tough? What reminder do you have that He continues to see you through? “Thus far, the Lord has helped us.” If the Israelites can defeat the tough Philistines, if this mountain chalet community can see the hope in the midst of tremendous fire damage, certainly we have the ability to see hope no matter what our circumstances. “Thus far, the Lord has helped us.”