1 Chronicles 4:9-10
Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez, saying, "I gave birth to him in pain." 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.
I chuckled to myself when I saw the verse that I would be writing about today. Interestingly, but not coincidently, the familiar verses known as the "prayer of Jabez" have come across my radar time and again over these past six months. I read it in my quiet time, journaled it, heard it in a sermon in the car, then again at a church service, and then now in Kit's book...talk about a God wink, wink, wink, wink, wink! At some point in this divine repetition, the Lord spoke to my heart saying, "Chris, Jabez' prayer is your prayer; pray it." So, I am.
Let's look at our friend Jabez together. His name, given to him by his own mother, means "pain." He could not escape the word or the feeling of it. From the sermons I heard, his childhood pain followed him all his growing-up-years. I wonder what the pain was? A feeling of being unwanted? A deformity of some kind? A physical ailment? We don't really know. One thing our verse does tell us is that "he was more honorable than all his brothers." This is what I think: his childhood pain grew him up to be an honorable man. I think his pain refined him. He was probably more humble than the "normal" kids. He most likely was more dependent on God. And I bet he developed a heart of compassion towards others because he could empathize with the downtrodden. These honorable qualities were birthed from his pain.
But then Jabez cried out. He pleaded for these things: a blessing from God to expand his territory (or his borders), for God's presence to be with him, for protection, and for freedom from his pain. And God said...yes. I'm not convinced this was the first time Jabez asked for these things, I just think it was the right time. The refining of Jabez's heart had been accomplished, and he was both ready and able to receive God's blessing in full measure.
In a way, I can relate to Jabez. I too experienced some pain in my childhood, and it defined me in a "captive" way for decades. But by God's grace, the pain also did it's refining work. I remember coming to an emotional breaking point as a young twenty-one year old, crying out (literally yelling) these very words, "Lord, please let me show you I can handle a blessing!" I can't really explain it, but something happened IN me on that day. I think the "borders of my heart started expanding". I know I was heard, and the unfolding of God's blessing has been ongoing for the last thirty years.
I encourage you to allow your pain to grow you towards Jesus. Embrace Him in humble dependence. Let Him compassionately break things away that keep your heart ensnared (bitterness, shame, guilt). Give it to Him today so that He can "expand your borders" in your heart, AND in your world. The world needs YOU, the saved-by-grace-you, the refined-you, the Light-filled-you.
So Soul Sisters, pray Jabez' prayer along with me...and let Him bless us indeed.
For further reading: Job 23:10; John 15:1-8
Thank You for knowing us inside-out. Thank You for knowing our past, our present, and our future. You are the answer to all our pain. May it refine us, but NOT define us! Please Lord take away anything that keeps us from whole-heartedly clinging to You. At Your appointed time and in Your divine way, bless us in ways we can't even imagine. Amen