Key Verse: “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.” 1 Chronicles 4:10
For most people, the birth of a child is the most joyous of all occasions. After months of waiting, there is much celebration as you get to hold your baby for the very first time. Everything about that moment is special beyond words. In the Jewish culture, women longed to get married and give birth. We can see this longing through people like Sarah, Rachel and Elizabeth. Furthermore, many wished for a son, to continue their family line and maybe even become a Redeemer of their people.
In 1 Chronicles, in the middle of a list of names we read, “Jabez was more honourable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez, saying, “I gave birth to him in pain.” (1 Chronicles 4:9.) His birth should have been a moment of great rejoicing. His mother had given birth to a baby boy, what every mother wanted, but rather than celebrating, she calls her son Jabez meaning “sorrow” or “trouble.” Instead of his birth becoming a source of joy to his mother, it was a source of pain, sorrow, disappointment and trouble.
Sadly, there are many children still born today with the knowledge that they are unwanted by their parents. They are made to feel an inconvenience to their parent’s life and a source of misfortune to them. Some parents can make their children feel that everything that is wrong in life is their child’s fault. Maybe you’ve even experienced an element of this in your life.
Jabez lived with an embarrassing name that let the world know his birth caused pain and sorrow to his family. We only need to look around us to see how children who feel unwanted normally respond. Some turn to unhelpful peer groups, some turn to relationships to try and find belonging, other may even turn to drink and drugs to ease the pain of parental neglect.
Jabez was different. He turned to God for hope and prayed what has become one of the most famous short prayers in the whole Bible. 1 Chronicles 4:10 says, “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.”
Jabez asked God to bless him. He had always been neglected. He didn’t know what it was to be blessed or be a blessing. Even his mother didn’t think he was a blessing, but he turns to God from whom all blessings flow.
He asks God to enlarge his territories. He’s been restricted his whole life, but he knows there is more. He is sure that God has more for his life than this? Do you sometimes have the same struggle? Do you feel you’re living a life less than what God wants for you?
Jabez prayer with not born out of selfish desire, but because he wanted to honour God with his life. The words “Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm” Really means “Keep me from evil”. Jabez is asking God to protect him from moral depravity, corruption, and sinful desires that He may live a life of praise to God.
Jabez was born unloved. Everyone knew that he was unloved, but when he cried out to God, “God granted his request.” Do you feel forsaken by many, including those closest to you? These verses remind us that God listens to the prayers of the abandoned and loves with unconditional love.
God took Jabez life from a place of pain and transformed it. There is only one other reference to Jabez.1 Chronicles 2:55 says Jabez made so great an impact for God that the people around him decided his name must never be forgotten. Consequently, they built a city, populated it with the scribal families,
Take encouragement today that your future is God’s hand. Even if you feel you have no hope and no future, you too can turn to God and like Jabez pray a simple prayer with confidence that God will hear you. Jeremiah 29:11 says “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”