(The Faith Forum Series – Batch 4)
On 24th February, 2020, (a day when many people in my country were frolicking, parting and revelling on what they call Carnival Monday) I had most of the day pretty much to myself, as my parents had gone to an annual family event and my brother had also left for part of the day.
Usually, when I have the house to myself, I tend to find myself pacing up and down in the living room and praying out loud to God, in a way that I would not usually do when there are other family members in the house.
Today, I can’t remember what prompted it but I intermittently prayed to God along a particular line. I prayed that he would help me to be a success in life, not as the world defined success but as he defined it and that he would keep me from being a failure.
I asked him to let my life be one that was worth living and not a waste and that he would deliver me from all oppression, suppression and other tactics of the enemy to keep me from being all that He wanted me to be for His Kingdom.
I asked that he would do this for me despite the amount of shame and sorrow I had had in my life thus far and all of the sins that I had committed in the past. I prayed that he would make me honourable and take me into a new season that was not characterized by shame and sorrow. I also prayed that he would provide meaningful Christian friendships in my life.
I prayed this way because I knew that God had the power to change my story, despite the odds against me, people’s opinions, my past and my failures. I believed that God had the power to completely transform the trajectory of my life and to get the glory out of it as well.
Later on that day, at about 9.50 p.m., I sat down to read my Bible and as I opened it, my eyes immediately rested on the following verse:
- “And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed and enlarge my coast and that thine hand might be with me, and that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me! And God granted him that which he requested.” (1 Chronicles 4:10)
Coincidence? I think not.
Like the story of Joseph, this was a familiar and well-loved scripture of mine but I took the time in that moment to reflect again on the character of Jabez. The Bible says he was more honourable than his brethren, which indicates that he was a man of good character. In a time where a name bore great significance, as it was meant to give a foretaste of one’s purpose and destiny, he was given a name that meant that he was birthed through pain (sorrow). This therefore seemingly indicated that his life would be one characterized by pain (sorrow).
YET, Jabez prayed to God to overthrow this destiny and God did!
The type of prayer he prayed reveals that he had a close walk with God and was completely dependent on him or else he would not have thought of praying to him to overrule the curse placed on him by his mother with such a name. His prayer was also made from a posture of meekness, indicating that he was a humble person. He understood that he was nothing much and maybe he had been treated that way all of his life thus far, people possibly ridiculing him and casting their nose down at him because of the meaning and destiny of his name.
YET, he had strong faith in God and in his power, as he believed that, despite the meaning of his name and that this usually influenced a person’s destiny and despite the fact that it seemed in the Bible days that God had empowered parents with the power to bless or curse their children, God could intervene in his situation which seemed hopeless. God could still overrule it all.
Maybe his prayer was prompted by him realizing, that he was beginning to do things that was causing both himself and others pain or maybe he was tired of walking around on egg-shells, afraid to truly live life uninhibited, by the burden of his name.
Irrespective of how people may have discounted and dismissed him thus far and the pain he himself may have begun to see materializing from his own actions, he believed firmly that God could change his story, a story that seemed destined for pain and non-profitability. God could truly make him somebody who would have a positive impact on this world, for His glory. And God did.
It was only after meditating on Jabez’ story, that I realized that I had prayed the Jabez prayer today, only in different words!
I believe that God allowed me to read this scripture as soon as I opened my Bible, not as coincidence but to let me know that he had heard my request and just like he heard and granted Jabez’ request, he would grant mine as well!
Thank you Lord Jesus. You are strong and ever faithful.
After meditating on the Jabez character, I conducted some further studies and in reading different commentaries, I found that in his sermon entitled ‘THE PRAYER OF JABEZ’, Charles H. Spurgeon stated:
- “Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed!” I wot whom God blesseth shall be blessed. The thing good in itself is bestowed with the good-will of the giver, and shall be productive of so much good fortune to the recipient that it may well be esteemed as a blessing “indeed,” for there is nothing comparable to it. Let the GRACE of God prompt it, let the CHOICE of God appoint it, let the BOUNTY of God confer it, and then the ENDOWMENT shall be something godlike indeed; something WORTHY of the lips that pronounce the benediction, and verily to be craved by every one who seeks honor that is substantial and enduring.”
(Written on 24th February, 2020)