Today's reading led me to 1 Chronicles, chapters 3 and 4. If you are familiar with these chapters at all, you would know that there isn't much to them that is entertaining. Long lists of names, and who the descendants were of David, Solomon, and so on. Then there in the middle of chapter four, we get a bit of a break.
9 There was a man named Jabez who was more honorable than any of his brothers. His mother named him Jabez because his birth had been so painful. 10 He was the one who prayed to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and expand my territory! Please be with me in all that I do, and keep me from all trouble and pain!” And God granted him his request.
Jabez is an excellent example for us as Christians. He had a past. We don't know exactly what it is, but we do know that he was named for distress or pain. Jabez did not want his name to reflect his life, so he decided to change things. And how did he change things? He prayed.
First, he prayed for wealth and prosperity- how often do we not ask God to bless us with riches or wealth? Why? It is quite all right for us to ask God to bless us financially. He wants us to ask, he delights in answering the prayers of his people. The second thing that Jabez asked for was that God would be with him in all that he did. This was a wise thing to ask after asking for riches. Having God by his side would help him be responsible with his fortunes and the more we practice handling our money in a Godly manner, the more it becomes habit. And thirdly, Jabez asked for God's protection through his life. And what did God do? The Bible simply says that God granted his request. Just like that. Jabez spent his life more distinguished than his brothers, simply because he asked.
Satan can suggest to us over and over that as we grow and age that our past is causing us trouble. It is Satan who plants the seeds of doubt that we are not worthy of God's love, and that something from our past will cause us problems in the future. Jabez's prayer teaches us that a difficult past can be overcome by the power of God. God answers prayer. He does have plans for all of us, but we can still pray and ask him for whatever our heart desires. When God does allow us to suffer, he also provides us the grace we need to endure the suffering, so that in the end of our suffering, it is him who is glorified by our triumph. God delights in answering our prayers- and he takes delight in delivering us from a shady past. Having God at our side while we fight our battles is what he wants us to ask him for... it is good to remember that. All we need to do is ask...