I am inspired by a man in the Bible whose mother underwent so much pain during his birth that she named him “Jabez”, which in Hebrew means ‘pain’ (1 Chronicles). He grew up being called “pain” by all those he interacted with.
Jabez, however, did not allow his name to interfere or blur who he really was; he did not allow his destiny to be determined by his name. 1 Chronicles 4:9-10 tells us that Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. It tells us that at a certain point, Jabez called on his God and asked for five things; He asked God to bless him, to enlarge his borders, that God’s hand might be with him, that God would keep him from harm, and, last but not least, that it may not pain him!” And God granted him what he requested.
Jabez did not allow his name, “Pain”, to make him sorrowful, shameful, or to define his life here on earth. He deliberately and decisively requested God for the aforesaid “five pillars of a desirable life”.
Jabez’s pain probably arose because of his name, but there are many causes of pain in this world that we live in; It could be the pain of rejection, such as when Joseph of the Bible was sold into slavery by his brothers (Genesis 37:12-36), when he was falsely accused by a seductive Potiphar’s wife and later thrown into prison (Genesis 39). It could be the pain of being despised, such as what Jesus Christ encountered (Isaiah 53) leading to His crucifixion. It could be the pain of circumstances, such as during the times of King Solomon when the prostitute found her living child almost being cut into two because another prostitute was claiming the child as her own (I Kings 3:16-28). It could be the pain of waiting, such as that of Sarah who waited for almost 90 years to have a child (Genesis 18). It could be the pain of betrayal, such as when Delilah cut Samson’s hair locks making him lose his strength and fall into the hands of his Philistine enemies.
It could be the pain of failure, such as what Saul felt when Samuel told him that God had rejected him and installed youthful David as king (I Samuel 16). It could be the pain of disappointment, such as what the people of Israel felt when God rescued them from Egypt and yet they were not getting to the Promised Land fast enough (Exodus 14-17). It could be the pain of oppression, such as the suffering that the people of Israel went through under Pharaoh’s rule in Egypt (Exodus 1-20). It could be the pain of lost opportunity, such as what the two sisters, Mary and Martha, felt after the death of their brother Lazarus because “Jesus did not arrive soon enough” as was their thinking at that time (John 11:1-44). It could be the pain of loneliness, such as that experienced by the sick man who had been by the pool of Bethesda for 38 years because he had nobody to put him into the pool when the water was stirred (John 5:1-23).
Jabez’s response to pain was by turning to God and asking Him to make him a better person. People can be classified into four groups depending on how they react to pain. There are those who lose everything including honor, there are those, like Jabez, who use pain as a lesson and overcome it; they say like David in Psalm 30:5 that, “Weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” There are those who use pain to oppress the weak, and lastly, there are those who graduate and cause more pain to other people.
We should all choose to not lose our honor even when in pain because we know, like Jabez, that pain is not embedded in us. Job is another example of a person who never lost his honor even after horrendous disasters took away all that he held dear, including his offspring, his health and his property. We should, like Jabez, call upon God to give us the ‘five pillars for a desirable life’ and He will surely grant our request.