Usually when I run into a genealogy in the Bible, I skim it quickly and move on to the next piece of text. A few months ago, I was doing that very skimming when a verse stood out to me. It was about Jabez. I read a book about Jabez back in college, but I haven’t really thought about him very much since then.
Because of that very popular book, The Prayer of Jabez, many people know his prayer well. He prayed, “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 gave him what he asked for. I tend to forget books, especially if it’s been many years. But I could have easily told you that Jabez asked God to enlarge his territory. That did impact me.
The part that got me this time was his name and the meaning of his name. Jabez’s mother named him Jabez because she gave birth to him in pain. So all that is known about him is the meaning of his name – pain, his audacious prayer, and the fact that God gave him what he asked for.
When I read it this time, God tugged me back from the everyday rush and whispered to me. He told me that what was once considered pain will give birth to THE MORE – the enlarged territory, the way you will impact others for eternity, your next season of victory.
There are so many promises in the Bible that speak of this. God promises to make beauty from ashes, double portion instead of shame, causing all things to work together for good . . .
I don’t believe that God causes bad things to happen in your life. But I know that he is constantly at work making all things good out of the many things that go wrong. It sounds cliche, but pause a minute. Fight that tendency to brush it off. It is truth, and the evidence of it is everywhere.
When something heartbreaking happens to us, it is out in the open and ours for the conquering. God will put that harmful situation under our feet and give us victory and authority over it. Psalm 23 has beautiful imagery of this, and it’s something like this: He makes a meal for us to sit down and enjoy, in peace, right in front of our enemies. That enemy is what happened to you or the things you are currently struggling against. Eating a peaceful meal in front of your enemy means that it is incapacitated and robbed of its power. God makes that hardship your footstool, and you will rise higher.
A practical outcome is that you may become the doorway for freedom for others who are about to meet this enemy or who already have. Or maybe your life won’t exactly be focused on being a doorway for others. That’s ok because you WILL still receive back double. You will receive beauty and joy. Your pain will give birth to an enlarged territory in your life. If you let it. . .
If–you–let–it. Pain doesn’t always get replaced by victory. Struggle doesn’t always lead to enlarged territory. I don’t have the organized steps to getting to victory. But I think it starts with a stubborn belief that God’s promises are true for those who love him. If God says that he’ll make beauty from ashes, joy from mourning, a double portion instead of shame, then dig your heels in the ground and make sure you get that inheritance. Don’t be robbed. And try trusting God even with the parts of the story that don’t make sense. Trust him because right now you might not know all of the complexities of what is going on around you. But eventually you will see the end and resolution of this chapter of your story.
How did this happen for me? About six years ago, I had three consecutive miscarriages and dealt with a lot heartbreak and fear related to that. I also experienced intimacy with God and eventually breakthrough and healing. You can read more of my story here. Now, it is my joy and the air in my lungs to encourage people who are going through the same thing. There are some things that they can avoid because I give them a boost off of my footstool. The hope I have for people in hard situations is a fortress for them to run into. This is the year that it feels like I’m literally catapulting off of that footstool into higher places, and I’ve caught the hands of many around me as I savor God’s goodness.
*Jabez’s tiny story is from 1 Chronicles 4:9-10.
*Beauty from ashes, double portion instead of shame, joy instead of mourning is from Isaiah 61.
*God makes all bad things good for those who love him is from Romans 8:28.
I wrote a children's book about miscarriage and Heaven called Our Heaven Baby. It's our story of pregnancy all the way to the hope of heaven told from my son's perspective, who was five years old at the time. To order a copy for yourself or a loved one, click here. I hope it is a huge source of hope!