Last night our small group came over for swimming, potluck, and Ebenezer story telling. We sat around the family room, grown-ups and kids, marrieds and singles, telling stories of God's faithfulness. Some were stories from long ago. Some were more recent. What struck me is how many of our stories were filled with pain, uncertainty, sickness, sadness, or loss. There were some tears. A few stories were happy reminders of God's goodness, but mostly we talked about suffering. God gets our attention when we are hurting, doesn't he? In our pain, we cry out to Him and we find that He hears, He knows, and He acts - not always in ways that we comprehend or desire - but always for our good. I was also struck by the how we all saw acceptance of pain as a good thing when it leads to greater love for God and deeper, more abiding trust.
I am so thankful for this group of folks who were willing and even eager to share stories last night. I think we all came away encouraged, closer, and more confident in God's faithfulness. We know how to pray for each other more intimately and we know ways in which we have all been shaped by the loving hand of God. Thanks to all of you who were able to come and who blessed me so much last night with your own Ebenezer stories.