“What’s in a name?”

“What’s in a name?” Shakespeare, the great English playwright and poet once asked. He continued, “That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

Jabez is an unknown man, whose entire life is summed up in just two Old Testament verses. Jabez is buried in a long list of genealogies – “so and so was the father of so and so, and so and so was the father of so and so” and the list goes on for nine chapters in the first book of Chronicles. We get so bored by the time we reach Jabez that we almost skip over him.

(Photo by Timothy Eberly/Unsplash)

It is significant that what Jabez is remembered for is not an amazing achievement he made, but just a simple prayer he prayed to God. He did not win a great battle, but simply prayed. But out of all the people in the nine chapters, he alone is lifted out, because of the simple prayer that he prayed. He cried out to God, “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). Even though God answered his prayer, Jabez is never again mentioned in the Bible.

In Hebrew, the name Jabez means “pain.” His mother may have delivered him in great pain and named him “pain” so that he would always remember the pain he had caused her. But in spite of all that, he rose above the obstacles created by his painful birth – by his past. He chose to pray – to “cry out to God.” So he prayed. He prayed that God would bless him. He prayed that God would enlarge his territory. He prayed that God’s hand would be upon him and that God would keep him from harm so that he would be free from pain…that with God’s help he could change his future destiny.

The story of Jabez is rather sad and painful. But Jabez did not curse his past or himself for having caused pain to his mother, nor did he surrender to his past misfortune, or give in to his destiny. Instead, he chose another course and direction for himself and his life. He chose to cry out to God. He chose to believe in God for whom “nothing is impossible” (Luke 1:37). He, with God’s help, opened a new chapter in his life. What a courageous act!

The story of Jabez teaches us that we also can choose to “cry out to God” believing that He will grant us our request – that He will bless us, enlarge our territory, be with us and keep us from harm so that we will be free from our misfortune. So, let’s choose to pray to God believing that He will grant us our request for “nothing is impossible with God.” Yes, “nothing is impossible with God.” We just need to believe and trust in Him, take a leap of faith in Him and, with His help, be willing to change our destiny.

Rev. Dr. Avedis Boynerian
Reverend Dr. Avedis Boynerian has been the Senior Minister of the Armenian Memorial (Congregational) Church since October 2003. He had previously served as the Minister to the Armenian Evangelical Martyrs’ Church of Aleppo, Syria. He graduated from the Andover Newton Theological School in 2011 with a Doctor of Ministry.
Rev. Dr. Avedis Boynerian

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