“Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez, saying, ‘I gave birth to him in pain.’ Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, ‘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 granted his request.” (1 Chronicles 4:9-10).
Some parts of the Bible have often been hijacked by people who would love to use it to justify their personal agenda. The idea of finding a compelling promise in the Scriptures and adapting it to fit one’s personal agenda or interests isn’t creative; it’s repetitive. “Taking it out of context” is a recurrent violation of God’s divine authorship and His intention to portray His truth – and, His promises – without risk of being misquoted or miscast.
If you wanted to snatch a verse to claim divine favor for any personal ambitions that advanced the longing for a long and prosperous life, expecting to avoid all of the negatives and enjoy the best of everything, Jabez’ prayer would be the crown jewel. The only problem: Jabez wasn’t pursuing his own aspirations; he was on the path to realizing God’s divine purpose for his life.
Bless me? That was the plea of a person who had detached himself from the negative voices that echoed from his family past and was, instead, linked for life to the Creator Who made him for more. He wanted God’s favor – God’s blessing – which always points toward the genius behind one’s unique eternal imprint: “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10). God’s blessing confirms the blueprint He used to make each of us for greatness.
Enlarge my territory? If taken at face value, that’s a request for more power and control. But to qualify for God’s inclusion in this comprehensive list of generations in the family line of Jacob, the desire for a broader assignment in which God’s glory could be achieved was the remarkable alternative.
Based on Jabez’ appeal to live up to his greatest, God-designed potential – and, the solicitation for a broader platform of opportunity than he could possibly maximize with his inherent human limitations – the next item on his wish list makes perfect sense: “Let your hand be with me.” (v 10).
If you use some of your quiet time to pursue new discoveries, use the tools available to you through the internet to learn a magnificent truth: the Hand of God always references the moments when human strength is inadequate for the initiative that’s underway, and unless an extraordinary intervention occurs, the task is doomed to fail. Who has access to superpower that’s on stand-by from heaven?
God looks for someone with whom He can partner: “For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.” (2 Chronicles 16:9a).
The underlying criterion are clear: 1) He limits his divine participation to the people in whom His Spirit already dwells; and, 2) If the pursuits can be successful with the resources already available to the people involved, He doesn’t provide back-up. But, when it’s a mission that is undertaken for His glory – and the capacity to ensure victory is beyond your reach – ask for Him to come to the rescue and watch for an answer.
What are you attempting to do, right now – for His glory – that will not be possible unless He provides capacity that you cannot mobilize, humanly? Unless it requires His hand – the divine power of heaven, in some form – it will never ensure His glory.
As William Carey was known to say: “Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God!”