Over the years I have discovered that most people share a common desire. It is a longing for significance. We want to believe that our life matters, that we are making a positive difference in the world, that we are truly fulfilling a purpose. Yet at the core of most of us are feelings of insignificance, smallness, and in some cases, sadly, worthlessness.
Unfortunately these feelings continually sabotage our hopes and dreams. They pull us into a world of self-focus, self-consciousness and fear. We want a larger life, but believe that we have been sentenced to smallness and insignificance. We become convinced that our life will never matter all that much. We settle for a shriveled existence. While we may achieve a level of personal success; materially, academically or professionally, there still exists a nagging, and perhaps even haunting sense of “littleness” about our life. This is a painful way to live.
How do we break out of such a mindset?
There is a great story in the Old Testament of a man who found freedom from this kind of pain. His name was Jabez. Take a look at how he broke out of smallness into a lager life of significance:
“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
The name “Jabez” means “pain,” or more literally, “You are a pain!” How would like to have a name like that? Every time Jabez’ name was called it reminded him of what his mom and others thought about him. His life had been condemned to smallness and insignificance from the day of his birth. This label had become a horrible prophecy over his life.
But one day Jabez decided that he had enough of this way of thinking and living. He heard about the God of Israel, a true and personal God who did wonderful things for people who dared to call on Him. That day Jabez prayed a prayer that was so incredible, so important, and so instructive for us that it was recorded for eternity in the pages of Scripture.
Jabez dared to ask God to make his life larger, to extend his limited life boundaries, to help him find significance, meaning and contribution. Somehow he became convinced that God could and would lift the restrictions on his life and free him from the pain he carried. And Jabez was not disappointed. Four amazing words end the recorded story of Jabez’ life, but what powerful words they are — ” … God granted his request.”
Are you feeling small and insignificant? The same God who enlarged Jabez’ life can and will enlarge your life, if you will turn to Him. Go ahead and pray the prayer of Jabez, and see what God will do for you!