pain defines me

Don’t let pain define you. Let it refine you.


I believe in the sun

even when it is not shining

I believe in love

even when I feel it not

I believe in God

even when He is silent (unknown)


His Hebrew name given at birth was Jabez, which means painful, to grieve or be sorrowful. Deep scars and soul wounds typified Jabez’s life, if I had to guess. We can’t know, but it is a reasonable best guess. Did he suffer from isolation like someone stranded on an island? I find it curious that Jabez pleaded for God to expand his coastline, which is the verbiage we expect to hear from a castaway. I’m not implying he wasn’t around people because You don’t have to be alone to feel alone. As a matter of fact, I experience alienation in a crowd much more than when I’m by myself. Whatever the case, it is reasonable to assume life for Jabez was hard. 


What about you? What’s contained within your name if we were to unpack it? Which harmful life events hemmed you in from experiencing more joy? Would the adjective “advancement” or “setback” best define your life journey?


My heart hurt hearing Shannon refer to her divorce no less than ten times in a twenty-minute conversation. It was as if she wanted to get the blemishes out of the way before she, my wife Jill, and I could discuss her current relationship. We could almost envision the invisible D she plastered all over her person, like a defense mechanism to ward off would-be friends. As if her soul could speak, “I’ll give them reasons to shun me so it won’t hurt so bad when they do” would be my best guess.


When Jill and I requested she define herself as the Lord sees her, not as she sees herself, you can imagine the outflow of emotions. She was a new creation in Christ; the old had passed, and the new had come. It’s always nice to be reminded of that. “Precious Daughter of the Most-High God suits you better,” I assured her, “much more so than Divorcee, don’t you think?” I’ve not witnessed that degree of release in a public setting before or since. You could almost make out the Scarlett D she’d sewn by hand dissipate to the floor. 


As for Jabez, all that we know about him comes from the two verses below:


Jabez was more honorable than his brothers, and his mother named him Jabez, saying, “Because I gave birth to him in pain.” Now Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, “Oh that You would greatly bless me and extend my border, and that Your hand might be with me, and that You would keep me from harm so that it would not hurt me!” And God brought about what he requested. – 1 Chronicles 4:9-10


Notice how Jabez rose above the negative connotations placed upon him at birth. At the outset, we learn he was “more honorable” than his brothers. At the conclusion, we discover how the Lord favored Jabez, considering He brought about what Jabez requested. If verses 9-10 were bookends, the middle was complex, but the beginning and end appear glorious. Calling out to the God of Israel made all the difference. I’d encourage you to do the same.


I’m reminded that nowhere in Scripture are we promised a pain-free existence; we can anticipate the opposite. Our spiritual DNA is affected by hurt, but not limited to it. The hurt drives us most quickly to Christ; otherwise, we might grow too fond of this life to long for the next. 


What best identifies you? How do you view yourself? Sorrowful like Jabez? Or D as in Divorcee? Or another letter symbolizing something else? Whatever it is, don’t let the pain define you. Let it refine you by adding two additional words: pain defines me……no more.

Jesus said, for those who have ears to hear, let them hear.


 Join our mailing list for author updates, bible studies, ministry, and more.