1 Chronicles 4:9-10
9 Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez, saying, “I gave birth to him in pain.” 10 Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request. NIV
Jabez is not a very well-known character in the Bible. I think he became more well-known when a little, self-helps book was written about His prayer. But I’m not going to say that if you pray his prayer then all your wildest dreams will come true. Nevertheless, Jabez’ name and his prayer made it in the Bible, so it would be worth a look.
When you read the scriptures you discover that Jabez’ name means “pain.” How would you like having “Pain” for a name? Imagine what that would be like growing up. “Hey, everyone, here comes Pain.” “He is such a Pain!” “Hey, Pain, how are you feeling today?” Doesn’t sound like much fun for a kid. Reminds me of an old Johnny Cash song called “A Boy Named Sue.” Now, I realize that a woman’s labor is something that can hurt immensely, and that many of life’s challenges we face can cause suffering , but when it comes to naming your newborn, please, do not name your kid “Pain.” Don’t you realize it has the possibility to mark your child and have a negative impact on their life?
But in Jabez’ case, that didn’t happen. I love how verse 9 says, “Jabez was more honorable than his brothers.” Even in the face of the label that Jabez carried, he did not allow it to define him. In fact, he was more honorable than the brothers. In fact, in the Scriptures (verses 9 and 10) he is the only one of his family mentioned by name. That’s impressive. And the man knew how to pray, too. Even in the midst of being labeled “Pain,” Jabez still prayed and asked God for His blessing and guidance…and God did it for him!
Men, I don’t know what negative thing you may have been labeled with, but let me encourage you…you do not have to let that label define what the contents of your life contain. Even in the midst of that negative label, keep your attention focused on Him. Remember, you have been made in the image of God, and have become a new creature in Christ Jesus…born of His Spirit. Don’t allow names or labels others may place on you to determine your future. Don’t let pain sideline you. Continue to cry out what Jabez prayed, “God, let your hand be with me.” Because when God is for you, it really doesn’t matter who is against you…because God is for you! And when you learn to trust God in the midst of pain and difficulty, friend, God says that’s honorable!
“Job never saw why he suffered, but he saw God, and that was enough.”
– Timothy Keller