The account of the son we are going to profile appears in the most unusual place. It lies hidden in a long list of names that chronicle the lives of ordinary men. Probably when you are reading the Chronicles this is the portion you are bound to skip. But therein lays the story of a man who refused to be just a part of the long line of history. His story is told in two verses with a total of 63 words. Yet here lies a son with a history and life like no other.
“Jabez was more honourable than his brothers.” That is how 1 Chronicles 4:9 introduces him. He was a son of honour, the same kind of son King Solomon calls wise and bringing joy to his father (Proverbs 15:20). His name meant “pain” and his mother had so called him because she gave birth to him in pain- the same pain Eve had experienced in childbirth. Of all his mother's children, Jabez was of a different cut. She had experienced unusual pain as she was giving birth and like Rachel decided to remind the world of what she had gone through. That name would then have a permanent place in the history of mankind.
Many a time our mothers experiences in life, in childbirth and in general tend to have a bearing on what will happen to our future. Jabez was always going to be a constant reminder to all who knew him and his mother that he had been a difficult pregnancy. It may be the same with you that you bear a name that carries a lot of weight. It may be that you knew not the reason you have the name you have, but take a cue from Jabez and do as he did. You probably are asking what he did. Hold on and find out.
Jabez cried out to the God of Israel; “O 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” 1 Chronicles 4:10. Having realised the power vested in his name, Jabez knew it was time to cry out to someone who was able to turn that situation around and counter the name's effect. God was the only One who could break the curse invested in that name. The difference that lay between him and his brothers was that he knew to pray.
To anyone that name can sound okay but to the discerning it carries a lot of weight. It meant pain. His life was characterised by pain. Everywhere he went people associated him with pain. He probably lived in pain and got constant reminders that he was the source of pain. Maybe his mother was afraid to have any more kids because of the pain of birthing Jabez. So you would have to understand his cry out to the LORD.
“O that You would bless me.” Jabez was conscious of the need for blessing. And as a descendant of Jacob he knew to adopt the Jacob stronghold on the man of God, “I will not let You go until you bless me” Genesis 32:26. He held onto the God of Israel. If his ancestors could get away with it why couldn't he? Son of God why not take time to cry out to God and ask for His blessing.
The name Jabez carried a load of curses and as he grew older he knew it was time to get blessed. So the young man decided to call upon the God of his ancestors. He knew that God responded to those who call upon His Name. If that were the case why would he not use the chance? Jabez knew that the LORD's blessing would bring wealth and there was no pain or trouble to be added to it. He wanted so much to get away from the pain associated with his name and God's blessing would do that for him. A blessing was better for him as it would allow him to go on with life without the load on his back.
“And enlarge my territory.” This guy was just adventurous. He wanted to make inroads into untapped areas. Judah had been thus blessed, “You are a lion's cub, O Judah; you return from the prey” Genesis 49:10-11. Extended territory was prey. Jabez was a lion's cub out of Judah and he was hungry. He was not content with what he had as he wanted more. At times contentment is not good enough, you need to have an undying appetite to go further than you have been. If you feel undone with what you have, call on the God who breaks out and extends.
In life you need a people who are hungry for the things they want. If there is no zeal there is no desire to achieve. But as demonstrated by Jabez, where there is a will there is a way. Jabez sons should have a desire for more. Isaiah 66:11 teaches us about drinking deeply at a mother’s breast because there is a flowing abundance. Jabez wanted to drink deeply of territory. What motivates you to drink? What is on your heart the most? You need to have a burning zeal for that which you want.
Enlarged territory was God's promise so Jabez was simply claiming it as Deuteronomy 12:20 records, “When the LORD your God has enlarged your territory as He promised you...” Jabez knew it was the season of enlargement and he was not letting the opportunity pass him by. As long as you know that it is time for extension, so be prepared to extend.
“Let Your Hand be with me.” Here was a need for the presence of God. I believe this guy knew his Old Testament well enough to know the desire of Moses for the presence of God to lead Israel on her journey. Moses wasn't prepared to go out alone. Alone Jabez knew he couldn't do it so he was inspired to ask the One who knows the beginning from the end. He needed God's Hand to steady the ship as it travelled through the storms of life.
Today many of us want to go out there and do things on our own forgetting Him who has already been there where we are going. We need the Hand of God to pave the way in our pursuit of a name change operation. As we seek the name change we need not forget that there are issues we cannot handle on our own strength. If God were for you, who then can take a stand against you? Take the message of Paul to the Romans seriously. If God does the bidding, who then can do the opposite? Come on Jabez, if God's Hand is not with you whose hand are you counting on?
When there is a quest for more God will establish and strengthen you. His Hand will help you, uphold and steady you through the storms of life and the day of trouble. There is a need for a hand to guide you in the shadow of dark valleys. Times will not always be the same so make sure you have a hand to hold onto when you are weak. God is the Man of War and if He as Commander of Heaven's Armies is standing on your side what harm shall you be afraid of?
“And keep me from harm.” Jabez also needed God's protection from harm. There were so many snares out there. Since the chap was more honourable than his brothers, wouldn't they be jealous of him and his new found favour? If this was going to be the case then there was a need to get protection. He also needed protection from his own name. Up till this point his name had caused so much emotional, physical and mental harm and this was the last straw. No more was his name to cause any more pain. He needed God to keep him away from harm.
As Jabez sons make, sure someone keeps you from harm. That someone has to be powerful even more than your enemy. He knew that no harm befell the righteous and indeed he would have freedom from the pain of his name. He didn't want to be like his mother, pained all his life. He was inspired to be better, blessed and successful. You too need a similar attitude as you face life’s challenges. If you want no harm then tell it to God and he will deliver you.
“So that I will be free from pain.” His pursuit and requests all pointed to one thing- he wanted to be free from pain. The pain must have become unbearable for him. We are not told how old he was so we'd assume he was quite young. And as young as he was he couldn't afford to carry the world on his shoulders anymore. He must have had a career to pursue and it was getting too hard for him to do it. Then he called out to God to keep him free from pain. Have you ever got to a stage in your life where you feel you can't take it any more? Well if you are at that point, you are a candidate for a Jabez release. You too need to pray to God to release you from the bondage of pain.
There are some things that will not go without a fight and as long as you are prepared to stand your ground God will deliver you. There are harms, fears and pains you may have grown up with and got used to. Now that you eyes have been opened up to the truths of God why not take a stand and tell God you have had enough and you are not taking “no” for an answer? It’s the season to stake your claim and refuse to be like everybody else who is listed with you in the history of your family.
Three things Jabez prayed for- God's Presence and grace; God's protection from harm; and God's freedom from pain. Alone he would never make it. For him to maintain the honourable standards there was a need to go higher with the pursuit of God. By trying and striving to be set apart from his brothers, Jabez was challenging the devil and knowing the character of Satan the battle was not going to be easy. So Jabez summoned all his faith and made a short but effective prayer that stands out in a long list of names in the fourth chapter of the book of First Chronicles. And Scripture records it nice and simple, “And God granted his request.” God hears but our attitude will determine His answer.