While making another journey through the scriptures, from Genesis to Revelation, I once again came across that wonderful little jewel found hidden amongst the rather tedious documentation of genealogies found in First Chronicles chapter 4.
Maybe God knows and understands that our attention span seems to shrink with the less than exciting portions of scripture. So, He inserts this wonderful little account that is filled with wisdom and encouragement and stimulates the sluggish brain.
Starting with verse 9 of chapter 4, here is the story:
Now Jabez was more honorable than his brothers, and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, “Because I bore him in pain.”
And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, “Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!” So God granted him what he requested.
The name Jabez means grieve or sorrowful. We are not told if the pain this mother carried was physical from the actual birth process or if it was mental anguish for some reason. Whatever the reason, she burdened the innocent child with a name that was a daily reminder that somehow he brought pain to his mother.
I was most taken by the last part of his prayer. “that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain.”
With a name like that, poor Jabez may have felt like he was the cause of every pain in the entire world. Somehow, he was to blame.
He did have one thing right. There is a connection between evilness and pain. God calls for us to be holy as He is holy. God’s laws and directives point us toward light and life and peace and joy. Our enemy, (the enemy of our soul) directs us toward evil which always brings pain. Then he somehow convinces us that if we inflict pain on someone else it will relieve our own pain.
Jabez may have hated his name and what it meant. He did not want to be a source of pain to his mother or anyone else. He knew the wise solution.
As I read this account, I got curious about who were these brothers that Jabez was more honorable than. I scanned back through the passages just prior and those after his prayer. Not a single word about who begat Jabez, or who Jabez begat. I am still curious and intrigued. This I do know. God inserted a jewel of wisdom in an interesting place.
A Christian counselor I know often says, “hurting people hurt people. Maybe Jabez was praying for God’s strength to help him heal from his hurts instead of lashing out and hurting others. Maybe he realized he needed more than just his own strength. So do we and so do our children.
Just this week we learned of another young man who lashed out by killing school mates in Texas. Maybe it would help if we taught our children to call on God to help and heal when they hurt, if we taught them to call on God to help when they need strength to hold back from lashing out their pain on others. Maybe it would help if we taught them to pray like Jabez…. “that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!”
A closing thought, God granted him what he requested.