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Jabez, Sin, and Pain

The name Jabez means “will cause pain.” His mother so named him because, as she put it, “I bore him in pain (1 Chron 4:9).” One wonders if he was teased growing up with a name like that. We don’t know. In fact, we know almost nothing about Jabez apart from the prayer for which he is famous in 1 Chronicles 4:10. “And 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!'”

Much has been written about this prayer. Some may have taken it too far, making more of it than they should. Others, in characteristic over-reaction have virtually ignored it or dismissed it, afraid of excess they have missed the blessed truths it contains.

I find the last clause in the prayer to be most instructive. Whatever else was true of Jabez, he seems to have understood the connection between sin and pain. His own name taught him as much. Undoubtedly his parents taught him the story of Adam and Eve, their sin and failure, and particularly God’s curse upon the woman in the form of painful childbearing (“in pain you shall bring forth children” Gen 3:16). But he appears to have grown to learn that pain follows sin everywhere, well beyond the moment of giving birth. This fact surely gave rise to his prayer that “You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain.”

Evil causes pain. Sin brings sorrow. Transgressions bear tears.

Sin causes personal pain. “The way of transgressors is hard (Proverbs 13:15).” An untold number of personal difficulties, hardships, and discomfort is brought about by our own sin. The proud man stumbles and bears the painful shame of failure. The adulterer will go through the pain of divorce. The lazy man knows the pain of hunger. The liar discovers the pain of anxiety, always afraid he will be caught in his lies. Numerous painful judgments fall upon us in this life from our own personal sins.

Sin causes corporate pain. Our sins bring pain and sorrow and misery on others. Achan, who stole the wedge of gold, was called the “troubler of Israel (1 Chronicles 2:7).” Children’s sins bring pain upon parents. Parent’s sins cause pain to their children. A sinful boss inflicts pain on his or her employees. And how many times has sin in the church caused pain to the body of Christ? A sinful pastor or elder brings grief to the flock. A sinful church member brings pain and shame to the whole congregation. Churches split because the pain of sin has gone unchecked. No wonder Jabez prayed as he did, “that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain.”

Christian – have you thought about the pain your sin has brought upon you and upon others? What about the pain that our sin caused Christ? “Surely He has born our griefs and carried our pain (Isaiah 53:4).” Jesus was a “Man of sorrows”, not due to His own sin, but due to ours. It was your sin, and mine, that nailed Him to that cross.

Praise God there is forgiveness for all the sin and pain of this world, and that forgiveness is found in Jesus Christ. We are told of Jabez’ prayer that “God granted him what he requested.” This was a Godly prayer. His request, in a sense, would find similar expression in the very prayer which Jesus taught His followers when He instructed us to say “Lead us not into temptation, but delivery us from evil.” Oh what a needful prayer that is!

Pray earnestly dear friends to be kept from evil, that you, and I, might not cause pain.

Photo by Road Trip with Raj on Unsplash

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