Summary: The Prayer of Jabez gives us insight into how we don’t have to hang onto the past but press forward into the future.
Turning Your Pain into Gain
Ballard Assembly Pastor Bob Briggs April 22, 2001
The top selling Christian book recently is “The Prayer of Jabez”. How many of you have read the book? It is written from the perspective of an obscure prayer found in 1 Chronicles 4. Everything written in the Bible is not as obscure as it may seem. In your notes we have verses 9 & 10 and lessons we can learn from the life of Jabez. Lets read the passage.
Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez, saying, "I gave birth to him in pain."
Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, "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.
I. Your Past Does Not Have to Determine Your Present.
I want you to listen well today, some of you need to break out of the living your in and experience the pleasure God wants to bring. Buried in the genealogies of the Old Testament is a nugget called Jabez. In the days in which he was born, they took considerable time naming a child. Names have meaning. Our oldest daughter said we took no time naming her April. She has said, what does my name mean, a month. We like the name, and would do it again. To us, her name represents the spring of life when things are beginning to be birthed and there is freshness in the air. It is more than a name for a month. Her middle name is Dawn, which speaks of the bursting forth of the Sun, shining its warm bright rays upon the landscape.
Names have meaning, and so the name of Jabez signifies what his mother thought when she named him. Jabez in the Hebrew means “One who causes pain.” How would you like to go through life being known as one who causes pain? It is so often tragic what parents do to their children. The harsh words, the painful memories of childhood some have endured, being told they will not amount to anything in life. Imagine having a name that brings back unpleasant memories, Jabez, one who causes pain. Or a parent or parents who look at you as being a pain.
Charles Francis Adams, a 19th-century political figure and diplomat, kept a diary. One day he entered: "Went fishing with my son today - a day wasted." His son, Brook Adams, also kept a diary, which is still in existence. On that same day Brook Adams made this entry: "Went fishing with my father - the most wonderful day of my life!"
You can live with the name and the reputation that name makes for you, or you can make a decision to live the way God determined. I have resolved to live the greatest life I possibly can, to look for the good in life instead of looking at the pain.
The Bible says in Psalm 139 that I am fearfully and wonderfully made…Jeremiah 29:11 says I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you a hope and a future.
My mother was 15 ½ years old when I was conceived. A young teenager who quickly married and divorced my biological father. Something tells me I was probably not the intention at her young age. My name is for two boyfriends, relationship that did not develop beyond friendships. My biological father wanted nothing to do with me, and as a child growing up I could well have filled the name Jabez, for I was a pain to my mother and stepfather. I had however resolved in my mind there was something greater than I, something of greatness I was born for. Not to wallow in the past but to live today. I discovered that purpose when I accepted Jesus Christ as savior and owner of my life. I have not lived my life as a product of a relationship that soured between two young teenagers. I have not let that knowledge slow me down or put me into the rut of living many people live in. I have determined in my heart how I am going to live, and went about living that way. My past has not determined my present. It did not for Jabez, and it does not have to for you.
We need to be optimistic about our lives. Consider Michael. Michael, a fifth grader, decided to run for president of the student council. During the “campaign,” Michael and his younger brother went to the pediatrician for a checkup. The doctor, noticing the campaign buttons, volunteered that he, too, had run for president of the student council when he was in the sixth grade, but had not won. Several days later, Michael called his mom with the election results. “It looks like I’m going to be a doctor!” What a way to look at life.