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. (1 Chronicles 4:9, 10 NKJV)
So often I associate Jabez to his prayer of expanding his territory and growth – be that physical prosperity or spiritual. But today, it caught my eye the last part of his prayer, “… that I may not cause pain.”
Verse 9 tells us that he was named Jabez because he was a painful birth (like any of them aren’t…) and his mother named him a name that became a lifelong reminder of the pain he caused her.
What a curse.
I wonder if Jabez’s prayer wasn’t a cry out to God in desperation to get out from under that curse. “God – make me able to bless others and don’t let me become evil so that I won’t cause anyone anymore pain!”
What if his prayer isn’t a prayer based on prosperity, but on trying to break away from the constant reminder of the pain he caused.
I’m a nickname kind of guy. I shorten or morph almost everyone’s name that I know. It makes me wonder, as a father, what words have I spoken over my kids. What nicknames have I given them and what do my kids think of that nickname? Will they grow up with a complex always trying to get out from under that name? Or have I given them names that they want to live up to… names that strengthen and encourage them… names that call out the giftings that God has blessed them with?
I think I will reevaluate what nickname I call my kids, my wife, and my friends.