November 15, 2009

Thus Far the Lord Has Helped Us

Just as Willie Sutton is (apocryphally) said to have robbed banks "because that's where the money is," Christians go to church because that's where God is.

I realize God is omnipresent, but He is especially present where the Word is rightly preached, the sacraments are faithfully administered, and prayers and praises are offered to Him. That where He meets us, speaks to us, feeds us. Susie and I have found this to be especially true during our time with Anne Marie. It seems like every Sunday morning or Wednesday evening at church, God has found a way to comfort us (as we have remarked here and here, for example). This morning what jumped out at me was one little phrase from the hymn "Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing."
Here I raise my Ebenezer:
Hither by Thy help I've come;
And I hope by Thy good pleasure
Safely to arrive at home.
The reference is to this verse: "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.'" Matthew Henry comments:
Samuel erected a thankful memorial of this victory, to the glory of God and for the encouragement of Israel. He set up an Eben-ezer, the stone of help. ... Samuel himself took care to set up this monument. He had been instrumental by prayer to obtain the mercy, and therefore he thought himself in a special manner obliged to make this grateful acknowledgement of it. The reason he gives for the name is, Hitherto the Lord hath helped us, in which he speaks thankfully of what was past, giving the glory of the victory to God only, who had added this to all his former favours; and yet he speaks somewhat doubtfully for the future: "Hitherto things have done well, but what God may yet do with us we know not, that we refer to him; but let us praise him for what he has done." Note, The beginnings of mercy and deliverance are to be acknowledged by us with thankfulness so far as they go, though they be not completely finished, nay, though the issue seem uncertain.
That's precisely where Susie and I are right now. We are grateful for what God has done, yet the future is uncertain. I can promise you that Gilda Radner's old SNL character, Roseanne Roseannadanna, would go nuts on this journey. Truly, "if it's not one thing, it's another." Today we learned that Anne Marie might have an infection; the doctors have put her on antibiotics. Probably in the next few days they will be looking to close her belly, and of course complications are always possible with surgery. But it's fruitless to obsess over every potential problem. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. For now Susie and I can say without hesitation: "Thus far the LORD has helped us." And (with apologies to the hymnist Robert Robinson) we declare:
Here we raise our Ebenezer:
Hither by Thy help we've come;
And we hope by Thy good pleasure
Safely to take our girl home.