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A Light in the Midst of Darkness 4.9

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A Light in the Midst of Darkness

1 Chronicles 4:9, 10 (NKJV)

9Now Jabez was more honorable than his brothers, and his mother called his name Jabez (pain), saying, “Because I bore him in pain.” 10And 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.

Surrounded by seemingly endless genealogies are these two verses presenting a brilliant light in the midst of darkness.  There are two things I have learned regarding this seeming darkness. 

One, it is not dark if your name is there, or the name of a cherished relative.  We visited the monument to the Viet Nam veterans several years ago and found this same kind of thing.  Endless names of men and women who had given their lives in defense of freedom.  But finding a son’s name there, or some other loved one, makes it all different.  It is no longer dark with meaninglessness, but perhaps a somber reminder of a loved one whose life was cut short.  I came to this portion of Scripture unprepared to understand and appreciate the lives of those listed there.  I was tempted to skip this section.

But a second thought came to me: God saves the names of His children.  We are never lost in the shuffle, forgotten forever.  He knows me and you.  Our names are on His lips.  When Jesus breathes a prayer for the embattled ones left here on this corrupted earth, our names are on His mind and on His lips. 

People are important to Him.  A name is a symbol of a person.  To Him, the whole person is represented.  When our names are mentioned, He sees us; He knows us;

our ambitions,

dreams,

hurts, and

thrills are alive and vivid to Him.

I like this portion of scripture because it is a bright spot in an otherwise boring section.  I like to be cheered up by the example of others, by the commitments they make or the achievements they enjoy.  It inspires me to hear of exploits done for God, for prayers answered, for testimonies of love and victory and loyalty.  And this is one. 

Jabez’ mother named him “Pain.”  All she could remember about his birth was the pain.  I suppose all births are accompanied by pain and anguish and struggle, but this is what she focused on.  Jesus said, “as soon as (a woman) has given birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world.”  (John 16:21) 

That’s the way it usually works, but not for Jabez’ mother.  She could not forget the pain; she seemed to blame it on this little boy, and tagged him for life with the name “Pain.”  I wonder how many people are “tagged” as a child and left to bear the stigma for years.

Jabez strikes me as an unusual man.  (1) He rose above the expectations and negativity of his mother.  (2)  He became a dreamer and doer.  (3)  He desired God’s best for his life.  (4)  He wanted to spare others of his own pain.  In the suffering of his mother, pain that was experienced was inflicted on Jabez.  He did not want to repeat that cycle of pain.

1.  To rise above our heritage is a marvelous thing.  We admire the success of a child abandoned to the currents of a crocodile-infested river in becoming the prophet and lawgiver Moses, who led God’s people out of slavery.

We enjoy reading about Abraham Lincoln, born in poverty and primitive conditions, who became a celebrated president of the USA.

But all around us are people who have done similar things.  The first to finish high school, the first to finish college, the first to become a genuine follower of Jesus, the first to establish a wholesome family environment, and on and on. 

We are surrounded by people who have allowed God to lead them out of idolatry and decadence and into life and light and glory!  Jabez was like that.  He surpassed his heritage; he succeeded in spite of family.  God planted in him a dream to rise above, and he did!

The can happen even when family means no harm; kids a injured by well-meaning but misinformed parents and teachers who say the wrong thing, who react wrongly to the foibles of kids.

And sometimes we simply take things wrong.  Honest misunderstandings of the intent of parents or leaders  can mar our self-image so badly that we have a hard time dealing with it.

2.  Not only did he rise above his background, Jabez became a dreamer and doer.  He achieved what no one else had done.  He went where no one else had gone.  He was “more honorable than his brothers.”

3.  He did that by choosing God’s best for his life.  He called on the God of Israel.  His words were, “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….”

4.  He determined to help others avoid the pain he had experienced.  O  Lord, I pray “that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!”

This apparently is a difficult clause to translate.  Some translate it as though the pain were something for him to avoid; others as something he did not want to inflict on others.  And still others as pain that troubles.

keep me from evil, that it be not to my sorrow!  (ASV)

keep me from evil, so that I may not be troubled by it!  (Basic)

keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me!  (Darby) and  (KJV)

Either way, Jabez was sensitive to the pain he had endured, passed down from his mother, and he wanted no part of it.  He wanted to rise above it.  He did not want others to endure what he had gone through. 

This story of Jabez tells me that we are not bound by our past.  Our God can deliver and set us free.

We are not bound by our surroundings.  We live in a God-denying culture, but God has a remnant!  And you and I can be a part of that faithful remnant.

And God can use even a person who seems to be in a very powerless condition and place to shine like a light in the darkness.  We are not bound by our limitations.

This apparently is a difficult clause to translate.  Some translate it as though the pain were something for him to avoid; others as something he did not want to inflict on others.  And still others as pain that troubles.

keep me from evil, that it be not to my sorrow!  (ASV)

keep me from evil, so that I may not be troubled by it!  (Basic)

keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me!  (Darby) and  (KJV)

Either way, Jabez was sensitive to the pain he had endured, passed down from his mother, and he wanted no part of it.  He wanted to rise above it.  He did not want others to endure what he had gone through. 

This story of Jabez tells me that we are not bound by our past.  Our God can deliver and set us free.

We are not bound by our surroundings.  We live in a God-denying culture, but God has a remnant!  And you and I can be a part of that faithful remnant.

And God can use even a person who seems to be in a very powerless condition and place to shine like a light in the darkness.  We are not bound by our limitations.

A Light in the Midst of Darkness

1 Chronicles 4:9, 10 (NKJV)

9Now Jabez was more honorable than his brothers, and his mother called his name Jabez (pain), saying, “Because I bore him in pain.” 10And 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.

Surrounded by seemingly endless genealogies are these two verses presenting a brilliant light in the midst of darkness.  There are two things I have learned regarding this seeming darkness. 

One, it is not dark if your name is there, or the name of a cherished relative.  We visited the monument to the Viet Nam veterans several years ago and found this same kind of thing.  Endless names of men and women who had given their lives in defense of freedom.  But finding a son’s name there, or some other loved one, makes it all different.  It is no longer dark with meaninglessness, but perhaps a somber reminder of a loved one whose life was cut short.  I came to this portion of Scripture unprepared to understand and appreciate the lives of those listed there.  I was tempted to skip this section.

But a second thought came to me: God saves the names of His children.  We are never lost in the shuffle, forgotten forever.  He knows me and you.  Our names are on His lips.  When Jesus breathes a prayer for the embattled ones left here on this corrupted earth, our names are on His mind and on His lips. 

People are important to Him.  A name is a symbol of a person.  To Him, the whole person is represented.  When our names are mentioned, He sees us; He knows us;

·    our ambitions,

·    dreams,

·    hurts, and

·    thrills are alive and vivid to Him.

I like this portion of scripture because it is a bright spot in an otherwise boring section.  I like to be cheered up by the example of others, by the commitments they make or the achievements they enjoy.  It inspires me to hear of exploits done for God, for prayers answered, for testimonies of love and victory and loyalty.  And this is one. 

Jabez’ mother named him “Pain.”  All she could remember about his birth was the pain.  I suppose all births are accompanied by pain and anguish and struggle, but this is what she focused on.  Jesus said, “as soon as (a woman) has given birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world.”  (John 16:21) 

That’s the way it usually works, but not for Jabez’ mother.  She could not forget the pain; she seemed to blame it on this little boy, and tagged him for life with the name “Pain.”  I wonder how many people are “tagged” as a child and left to bear the stigma for years.

Jabez strikes me as an unusual man.  (1) He rose above the expectations and negativity of his mother.  (2)  He became a dreamer and doer.  (3)  He desired God’s best for his life.  (4)  He wanted to spare others of his own pain.  In the suffering of his mother, pain that was experienced was inflicted on Jabez.  He did not want to repeat that cycle of pain.

1.  To rise above our heritage is a marvelous thing.  We admire the success of a child abandoned to the currents of a crocodile-infested river in becoming the prophet and lawgiver Moses, who led God’s people out of slavery.

We enjoy reading about Abraham Lincoln, born in poverty and primitive conditions, who became a celebrated president of the USA.

But all around us are people who have done similar things.  The first to finish high school, the first to finish college, the first to become a genuine follower of Jesus, the first to establish a wholesome family environment, and on and on. 

We are surrounded by people who have allowed God to lead them out of idolatry and decadence and into life and light and glory!  Jabez was like that.  He surpassed his heritage; he succeeded in spite of family.  God planted in him a dream to rise above, and he did!

The can happen even when family means no harm; kids a injured by well-meaning but misinformed parents and teachers who say the wrong thing, who react wrongly to the foibles of kids.

And sometimes we simply take things wrong.  Honest misunderstandings of the intent of parents or leaders  can mar our self-image so badly that we have a hard time dealing with it.

2.  Not only did he rise above his background, Jabez became a dreamer and doer.  He achieved what no one else had done.  He went where no one else had gone.  He was “more honorable than his brothers.”

3.  He did that by choosing God’s best for his life.  He called on the God of Israel.  His words were, “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….”

4.  He determined to help others avoid the pain he had experienced.  O  Lord, I pray “that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!”

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