Thursday, February 20, 2014

Healing For Your Soul

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 might not cause pain!" So God granted Him what he requested. (1 Chron. 4:9,10).

Today we're going to dissect a little portion of scripture that has big implications. It's called the Prayer of Jabez. The story of Jabez is tucked away between genealogies in the 4th chapter of 1st Chronicles. It begins by informing us that Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. That's just half of the first sentence, but let's stop there for a moment.

Jabez was MORE honorable than his brethren. It doesn't say his brothers were a bunch of rascals. It just tells us that Jabez set the bar a bit higher and that was a notable quality about his life. Friends, what do you think others would deem notable about your life? It makes one stop and think, doesn't it? If we want our prayers to get the attention of heaven and compel answers to come forth, then I think this is our first clue as to why God granted Jabez' request. Live your life in such a way as to capture your Father's heart. Don't let there be any reason for Him to have to consider whether or not your petition is answered quickly! When Daddy hears your voice, let His immediate answer be a resounding YES, give her whatever she requests!

"...and his mother called his name Jabez, because she bore him in pain." (1 chronicles 4:9). So, imagine you're talking to your mom one day, and your conversation goes something like this: "Hey Mom! How did I get my name?" you ask innocently. "Well..." her voice trails off. Reluctantly, she continues. "Bringing you into this world was the greatest pain I have ever experienced. There was trouble all around. There were things going on in my life, you know...your daddy left and war made everything a fearful time. There was hardly enough to eat, and then you came along. It wasn't a good time to be having another baby, but what was I going to do? Five kids already and another mouth to feed, and I was all alone. There was just a lot of sadness and sorrow. Life wasn't good, so the name Jabez just seemed appropriate."

I can't imagine the sadness and sorrow this boy felt when he realized why he was named Jabez. His mother cursed him with a poor choice in names, but once Jabez discovered the meaning behind his name, he made a conscious choice to NOT cause pain. Back then, in biblical times, a person's name was deeply significant. Their name and destiny were very connected. Jabez obviously did not want to feel responsible for other people's pain, and that was incorporated into his heartfelt prayer. So here it is, all 4 lines of it.

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 might not cause pain!" So God granted Him what he requested. (1 Chron. 4:9,10).

The rest of the story isn't available, only that God gave him what he asked for. But I can tell you this from experience and from praying this prayer myself. If we're serious about being a person of influence, the first thing God does is set about cleaning up our character so that we aren't a source of pain to others. He uncovers our weaknesses. He lovingly challenges us to surrender to the remolding and reshaping processes under the guidance of His tender care. We are all somewhere on this road of development, and we need to learn to be gentle towards one another, because none of us should want to be responsible for causing other people pain. Please tell me that you aren't so hurt and bitter that you relish the idea of getting back at someone else to cause them is not fulfilling. It only loads a person down with guilt and shame.

I pray that today you can take a new look at whatever your circumstances are, and know that God isn't punishing you or deliberately causing pain. Pain comes when we refuse to examine ourselves in light of His word and try to stay the same person that God is trying to change. God's purposes are always redemptive. If He is stripping you, then it's only so that you learn to ask the right questions and pray the prayers He wants to answer. If He is asking you to surrender your will over a situation, it's because you can't play god and ask Him to be God at the same time. The presence of pain, anger, fear or insecurity in our life is evidence that we have lies in our belief system that God is trying to root out. Pain is evidence of unhealed wounds. The truth of His word is what heals. When we get the revelation of His word in us, the lie is displaced and truth is what heals our fragmented soul. Let us come to Him eagerly and surrender the pain, the resistance, and the uncertainty so that our eyes can be opened to the truth that heals. When you aren't in pain, you have less of a chance of causing pain or offense to others. This is a secret Jabez understood. If he didn't want to repeat the pattern of causing pain like his own mother inflicted upon him through his name, it was up to him to break the cycle. Today, it's up to you, and with God's help, you can break every negative, painful cycle you've endured. Let today be a day of a fresh start!

 "That I might not cause pain..." The simple, heartfelt cry from Jabez' prayer is that he would not cause pain to others. Now THAT is an honorable prayer! People can cause pain to others in the least of ways that they don't even stop to think that's what they may be doing. What seems harmless to us may actually inflict unnecessary discomfort, pain or offense to others. Personal judgments are felt by others whether we intend them to or not. A raised eyebrow. Inflection in conversation or the use of a particular tone of voice can convey the thought that you disapprove of something in the life of another person. An attitude of rejection or many other messages are conveyed just as easily through body language as they are through verbalization, and they are just as wounding. When ever we carry judgments that tell us we know better than another person, we are going to end up hurting or offending them - even if that is not our intention. 

I have never wanted to be an instrument of pain to someone else, yet I have found that when I am pained in my soul, it can be ever-so-easy to do. When your soul is not at rest, when it feels anxious, angry or can begin to feel like you can't breathe. Out of our own discomfort, discouragement and distress, we can far too easily become the instrument of pain that releases negative words over others. This is what Jabez'  mother did when she named him out of her own pain. She actually caused a curse to occur over his life, and he could have lived with that identity forever - except there was something inside of him that longed to be free of that curse and longed to be free and healed! Jabez took his own destiny into his hands and said, "I will NOT become a source of pain!"

Your soul can't breathe if it's suffocating under the weights of anxiety, depression, over taxation from too much busyness and distraction, or the many things that can deplete us. If it continues over an extended period of time it can feel like you're suffocating. Make time to take time - for a time out. Rest your weary soul. In the words of our Lord, "Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Ask Holy Spirit to come and fill all those empty places with Him. I say to your storm: "Peace, BE STILL."

 Sensitivity to the Holy Spirit means that we pick up on these things (hopefully sooner rather than later) and be willing to yield to His Spirit so that we don't cause pain.

Holy Spirit,

Forgive me for all the times when I have needlessly inflicted pain or offense on others. I give You my heart, my mouth, and my entire being; just please don't let me cause pain to others. I will gladly yield myself to You so that no matter what the situation, You can speak through me. You can put a guard on my mouth, revise the outgoing message and adjust my body language so that I do not send negative messages. Forgive my proud judgments against other people. Forgive me for being a source of pain to others when I have spoken and acted negatively towards others out of the pain in my own soul. Breathe life and fresh breath into my soul, Holy Spirit. Let me soul and spirit be renewed and refreshed. Let me be an instrument of healing, encouragement and peace, and speak whatever You would say to others. Help me to withhold what ever is unnecessary so that Christ can be glorified and others are encouraged. In Jesus name., amen.

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