Last time, I started to write on Nomenclature, which is the art of naming. I said that the responsibility of nomenclature is an endowment upon humanity by God. It sometimes seems to me to be another level of God’s partnership with man, bringing man to the table where certain things are given shape and perspective.
It also seems that Man, left to himself, can exercise this power. Now, this is a critical allowance for man, and he must be careful how he exercises it.
And Jabez was more honourable than his brethren: and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, Because I bare him with sorrow.1 Chronicles 4:9
The fourth chapter of the 1st Chronicle of the kings of Judah is quite profound. It starts as a chapter on genealogy, but along the line some short (but loud) commentaries are made about certain people and places.
One of such persons is a man called Jabez. The above verse is curious. The first statement was describing the kind of man Jabez was; He was an honorable man – at least compared to his brethren. So we see in a sense the broad strokes of his life. However, possibly at his birth, due to circumstances, his mother in her response to those things, and in an attempt to use him as a benchmark for that season gave him a name. She called him Jabez which means “to grieve”, or “to be sorrowful”.
Now, even though Jabez grew up and became an honorable man, he probably also felt that this name and what it stood for had brought upon him other layers of experiences and possibly restrictions that shouldn’t be there.
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
So he prayed. But notice he didn’t ask for a mere change of name. He had specific requests. He was able to articulate the undesirable elements that had formed part of his experience, and I especially think of that last part of his prayer. This was a man whose life had become acquainted with pain.
Putting it together, two streams were captured in the life of this man, that of a honorable man and that of a man of pain. The first was by design, the second an unfortunate addition. But he realised this along the line and was able to edit that information.
And God granted his request. Glory to His name! Jabez was wise enough in God to edit those experiences and make them align with the original design; the design of a honorable man.
Even so, it remains a possibility that Jabez might not have been able to change his name. But he could in prayer change the experiences orchestrated by that name. And I take great comfort in knowing this; that whatever labels have been placed upon us, we can in God change those experiences and bring them into alignment with our prophetic potentials and possibilities.