We are introduced to Jabez in 1 Chronicles 4:9-10 via way of his mother who gave birth to him in pain. The passage reads:
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.
Giving birth is a painful experience, but it appears that Jabez’s birth was more painful than usual. Because of this, Jabez’s mother gave him a name which means “pain” or “sorrowful”. In Bible times, what a child was named was very important and often determined what they would become or what would happen in their future. Due to the pain he caused her in birth, Jabez’s mother may have thought that he would have a painful life. Jabez, however, thought differently. The passage above tells us that he was more honorable than his brothers, meaning he was honest, upright, and had respect for God. He was also a man of prayer. He cried out for God to bless him and keep him from harm so that he would have a life free from pain. God heard his prayer, and answered it in the affirmative.
1. Jabez’s mother cared for her son. We don’t know why Jabez’s birth was so difficult, but we do know that his mother cared for him enough not to prematurely end his life just to ease her pain. Through tears, she gave him the opportunity to live. Through sorrow, she gave him a name (albeit a sad one), a hope, and a future.
Perhaps it was also her good and godly influence that made Jabez into an honorable, praying man who had faith that God would grant his request. If Jabez’s mother had not endured the pain of his birth, Jabez would never have experienced the blessings and grace of God on his life. Out of sorrow, came satisfaction. From sadness, sprung joy.