Words of Worth

“Hitherto” into 2011

December 31, 2010

It was a restless night and thus a restless early morning. Cares and concerns were pressing in on every side and I did what those who have long gone on before me did when they needed comfort – I reached for my iPhone. Technology is great, isn’t it? But I didn’t phone a friend, check Facebook or read the news. With the press of a button that morning, I was able to access the words of a wise, old pastor from the nineteenth century. It was a random “call” really; I had recently downloaded a devotional app from Charles Spurgeon and very haphazardly that morning I tapped the icon. Little did I know God was waiting on me to make that very call.

“Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” Jeremiah 33:3

Technology IS great but even greater when it exposes the meaning of an archaic term. The word that morning (and every morning since) was “hitherto”. The Scriptures reference was 1 Samuel 7:12:

“Hitherto has the Lord helped us.” (KJV)

Spurgeon comments, “The word hitherto seems like a hand pointing in the direction of the past. Twenty years or seventy, and yet, hitherto the Lord hath helped! Through poverty, through wealth, through sickness, through health, at home, abroad… in perplexity, in joy, in triumph, in prayer, in temptation, hitherto the Lord has helped us.”

Newer translations of the Bible put it this way, “Thus far the Lord has helped us.”

When Samuel uttered these words to the Israelites, they were in the heat of battle against the Philistines. (see 1 Samuel 7) He takes a stone, sets it down in their sight, and names it Ebenezer – the “Stone of Help”. It was a visual reminder of how “thus far” the Lord had helped them. It was a call to remember how the mighty arm of God had never been too short to reach them in their time of need. It’s still not too short today. “Hitherto” the Lord had helped me. As I thought through my circumstances and recounted His faithfulness towards me, I didn’t find a single moment He had left me alone. Peace began its journey back into my restless soul.

But there’s more – there’s always more with God because He’s the God of “more than you can ask or imagine.” (Ephesians 3:20)

See, “hitherto” also points to the future. Spurgeon goes on to say, “For when a man gets up to a certain mark and writes “hitherto”, he is not yet at the end, there is still a distance to be traveled.” Today is the last day of 2010. We are looking back on the year we just traveled and are looking ahead to what the next year may bring. Because we can say “thus far” God has seen us through, we can gaze into the unknown of 2011 with the calm assurance that He will guide us safely into and through every event, circumstance, trial, temptation, triumph, and victory. For some stepping into a new year will be easy but for others the step might be filled with apprehension or fear. Remember “hitherto” and look forward in hope that He is leading you “safely home.”

“But thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place.” 2 Corinthians 2:14

As you end this year and look forward to the next, why not take some time to reflect and recount some of the “hitherto’s” in your life and determine to set before you an Ebenezer to remind you that He will “never leave you or forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5 (CT)

Looking for more words? Read Psalm 65 and ponder His goodness. List His awesome deeds and pray for the next year to be crowned with HIS bounty thereby keeping all the focus on Him.

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