Johnny Cash's song "A Boy Named Sue" is about a dead-beat dad who named his son "Sue." In a humorous way the ballad tells of the young man's struggle, growing up with a girlish name and an absent father.
In a not so humorous way, 1 Chronicles 4:9-10 gives the two-verse biography of Jabez. His mother named him Jabez because she complained, "I brought him forth in pain." The name "Jabez" sounds like the Hebrew word for "pain." I thought all chilldbirth was painful. Regardless, can you imagine being called "pain?" What a tough name to get stuck with!
Throughout human history, countless children have faced worse situations including alcoholic parents, broken homes, abuse, poverty, handicaps, war, etc. Some of these young victims were crushed and permanentlly scared by life's injustices, while other young people overcame their difficulties and became productive citizens.
Here are three important life skills we learn from this overcomer Jabez.
DREAM BIG - Jabez wanted his borders enlarged. He dreamed of better things and was not content to stay the same. Maybe he wanted greater influence in the form of more farmland or a bigger business. In spite of his bad begining, Jabez knew his past did not dicatate his future. What God-sized dreams smolder in your heart?
PRAY HARD - Jabez asked God, "Oh, that You would bless me indeed." Do you hear the passion in that statement? The dreams of Jabez were humanly impossible and required divine intervention. So Jabez eanestly cried to the Lord "that [God's] hand would be with [him]." How fervent are your prayers?
HATE EVIL - Jabez knew that sin always brings pain. There is no such thing as sinning with impunity. Thus, Jabez asked God to guard him from evil. He did not want to live up to his name and bring pain on himself or others. Centuries later Jesus taught His disciples to pray, "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil." Maybe we need to emulate the Puritans who came to Plymouth Rock and separate ourselves from worldliness. How serious are you about clean living?
The name Jabez is unusual and found in only two Bible passages. The other mention of Jabez is found in 1 Chronicles 2:55 where it refers to a city of scribes named "Jabez." Perhaps the young Jabez who once caused pain became so honorable that a city was later named after him.
You too can overcome the hurts of your past. Dream big dreams, pray with passion, and always avoid evil. Only God knows what remarkable things He wants to do in you, through you, and for you.
How exciting to realize your story is not yet over. There are still wonderful chapters waiting to be written. And by your actions you get to guide the Author.