It has been said that there is little difference between people, but that little difference makes a big difference. There is a fascinating man in the Bible who might seem a little different from others, but that little difference proved a big difference for him, for his people, and can for you and me!
This man is found in the Old Testament book of 1 Chronicles. The very name 1 Chronicles tells us that this is a book of history, a written factual account of people and events. It is tempting to skip over the first 9 chapters of the book as it is genealogies about “so and so begat so and so…” Just the sort of reading to cure insomnia! But then the Spirit of God pauses at one particular name in chapter 4 in the genealogy of the Tribe of Judah. This man made a difference:
Jabez was honored more than his brothers; and his mother named
him Jabez, saying, “Because I bore him in pain.” Jabez called on the
God of Israel, saying, “Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my
border, and that your hand might be with me, and that you would keep
me from hurt and harm!” And God granted what he asked (4:9-10).
The Holy Spirit takes note of the man Jabez, whose name means “pain”. One can only imagine a boy’s self-concept in being named “Pain”! Every time his mother called him for dinner, Jabez was reminded that he was a pain. Yet Jabez refuses to make himself a victim and grows up “more honored than” all other members of his tribe.
We are not told all that Jabez did to be so honored, but are told that he was a praying man. Jabez is remembered for his prayer for God to bless him: “Oh that you would bless me…” One is reminded of the patriarch Jacob who wrestled with God and called on Him: “I will not let you go, unless you bless me” (Genesis 32:26).
Jabez had learned at some point in his life the importance of God’s blessing, and sought it: “Oh that you would bless me…” In a long litany of names, Jabez is remembered for his prayer. Jabez knows that he needs God’s “hand” with him; he asks that God keep him from “hurt and harm”. The Hebrew word translated “hurt” is the very word “jabez” translated earlier in the passage as “pain”. He asks that God keep him from the pain and hurt implied in the name his mother gave him. And we know that God was pleased to answer Jabez’s prayer because it says “God granted what he asked.” God delights in being asked by His children to bless them! So let us dare to be bold in daily asking for God’s blessing. It is a little thing that will make a big difference.
Because it is God’s will to bless His people when they ask, reflect on this blessing commanded by God to be spoken over His people:
The LORD bless you and keep you;Numbers 6:24-26
the LORD make his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you;
the LORD lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.
Name and reflect on the thoughts and feelings today’s reading stirs in you. Take a few moments to talk with God about them.