Summary: Jabez shows us what it is like to move from pain to our potential God designed us for. His name actually means "pain."


“Moving from Pain to Potential”

1st Chronicles 4:9-10

Eagle’s landing is now beginning our 16th year of ministry. We are still a relatively young church in many ways. My wife and I served a church in Kentucky before moving to Florida that was 200 years old. It was truly a great church. We loved it there. God then moved us to Florida 21 years ago. I heard the story of another church-they were celebrating their 200th year also but they had a problem and they didn’t know how to handle it. They had a large bell tower and they would ring the bells every Sunday and they would sound throughout the community and everyone loved it-but as I said, there was a problem-their bell ringer was going to be out of town.

So the pastor began to advertise for someone else to come and ring the bells. He finally found someone so when the replacement showed up for work the pastor took him directly to the steps leading to the bell tower... some 150 feet above them. Round and round they went climbing to the top and they both were getting out of breath. Just as they reached the top where the bells were located, the railing broke loose and the new replacement fell all the way to the ground. But miraculously he was not hurt... He was just stunned. But the pastor decided to take him to the hospital anyway. When the doctor saw the man he turned to the pastor and said, “Do you know this man’s name?” Pastor said no, I don’t remember now, ..... But his face sure does ring a bell. 

This morning I want to preach a New Year’s message based on the life of a man who had a name that is somewhat easy to forget. His name is Jabez. Jabez is best known for a very short passage in the Bible that also contains a short prayer that he prayed. 1st Chronicles 4: 9-10.

In the first nine chapters there is a list of 500 names. So it would be easy to forget at least one of them... These names make up the official family tree of the 12 tribes of Israel and they are wonderful for bedtime reading—most of them are listed without any comments at all--but there are a few that stand out.

• Chapter 1:19... One was named Peleg

• 2:3... One was named Er..... was wicked.

• 2:7…Achan, who brought disaster.

And so we have one guy who is given a name that means divided/division. Another man was wiped out because of his wickedness. Another man named because he brought trouble to Israel.

Now let’s turn again to chapter 4. In 500 names we’re not finding anything here but then suddenly a face begins to stand out in the crowd. It’s like a camera scanning this crowd of 500 people and suddenly the focus is on one individual. His name is Jabez. 44 names into the chapter we read these verses. Verses 9-10.

It’s clear from the beginning there is something unique about Jabez.

[1] His character was strong. Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. This of course says as much about his brothers as it does about him. Jabez was honorable. His brothers were dishonorable.

[2] He was a pain to his mom. His mother named him pain. Why would you do that? In one church we served there was w woman named Anti and she lived up to her name. Other examples.

So why would you name a child “pain?” Didn’t she have one of those baby name books? Verse 9 gives us a bit of insight. It says, “I gave birth to him in pain.” This could of course refer to the pain of childbirth but I don’t think that’s what it means here. Hear his name indicates that something was troubling his mother. She was discouraged. The only thing she could see in her future was difficulty so she named her baby pain. Only God knows what her pain was.

[3] Her future was bleak. Often babies are given the name of a relative. Some use Bible names. Sometimes they just sound good. In the Scripture, children were often given names that would reflect their character; their destiny. For example Solomon---his name means peace. He was the first king of Israel to reign without going to war. But Jabez means pain. So he had an uphill battle from the start. Imagine when he was playing outside at the age of five… it’s time for dinner and his mother yells out the back door, hey-you who causes me pain, you source of grief you, you little loser-it’s time for dinner. Moms often refer to their children as their pride and joy but not this one.

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