Surgical Spirit: Faith, Hope and... Kevin

Ruth Eardley is a GP and member of Affinity partner Little Hill Church, Leicester. She writes a regular piece for her church entitled 'Surgical Spirit'. We have been given permission to reproduce them. This is her latest contribution:

'Jabez was more honourable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez, saying, ‘...because I gave birth to him in pain.’ (1 Chronicles 4:9)

One of the joys of obstetrics is the fascinating names that people give their children. Some names will be hard to live up to (Michelangelo, Marvellous, Awesome). Some names suggest the parents lacked imagination (Dwayne Pipe, Robin Graves or the triplets Faith, Hope and Kevin). And some names are asking for trouble (Ruckus, Mayhem and Furious).

How about Jabez?

Jabez sounds like the Hebrew word for ‘pain’ and, in the days before anaesthesia, (most of the history of the world), I suppose that most children could have been called ‘Pain’. We are not told exactly why Jabez was ‘more honourable than his brothers’ but we do know that he was a man who prayed. He placed his confidence, not in himself, but in the covenant-keeping ‘God of Israel’ (1 Chronicles 4:10a). He prayed against the name assigned him at birth: ‘Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.’ (1 Chronicles 4:10b)

Some Jewish writers say that Jabez was an esteemed expert in the law. This is to link him with the town ‘Jabez’ in 1 Chronicles 2:55 where many scribes and their clans had settled. Whatever his abilities and qualifications, Jabez trusted in God for protection, blessing and flourishing. In the middle of a long genealogy about the clans of Judah, we have this small snapshot of an unlikely hero and the simple statement: ‘And God granted his request.’ (1Chronicles 4: 10b)

Many people have an unpromising start in life. This may even include a name they dislike or they are teased about. The story of Jabez reminds us that it is not where we started that matters – it is where we end up. It is not what we achieve that matters – it is in whom we trust. And it is not whether our name is unusual or striking or plain embarrassing that counts – it is whether our name is written in the Book of Life.

For meditation

'No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.' (Romans 8:37-39)

'He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never erase his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels.' (Revelation 3:5)




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