What a Pain

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Picture at the very top is Joni painting in 2014

Joni and Friends
What a Pain

by Joni Eareckson Tada

“Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez, saying, ‘I gave birth to him in pain.’”

1 Chronicles 4:9

Can you imagine someone whose name is Pain? He’s mentioned in today’s Scripture. Why would a mother give her son the name Jabez, which in Hebrew means “pain”? Just think of the razzing little Jabez got from his playmates.

Yet Jabez didn’t let his name get him down. In fact, Scripture says he was more honorable than his brothers. It even says that when he cried out to God, the Lord blessed him and granted his request to be kept from harm. As a wheelchair user, I can understand a little of the stigma that Jabez must have faced. It’s not fun to be looked on as different, even to the point of being nicknamed after your disability, as when someone says, “Hey, Crip.” (That happened a lot in the hospital, when older teenagers who were paraplegics teased us younger quadriplegics.)

But I believe that being different—even having a stigma—can drive us closer to God.

Have you felt the sting of social stigma? Of negative stereotype? You may never have felt the pain of being called names like Metal Mouth (that’s what Rocky, my classmate, called me when I wore braces in ninth grade), but there may be something about your abilities or appearance that you wish you hadn’t been saddled with.

Can you, like Jabez, turn it around for good and not let it get you down? Can you let it push you into the arms of Christ? God has a special love for you, so look to him in your pain. Whether it be physical or emotional, you may find that you’ll be as blessed as Jabez.

God, when life is a real pain, teach me to come to you with my hurts. And help me to be like Jabez and concentrate not on the negatives but on how to live honorably.

Taken from More Precious than Silver

By Joni Eareckson Tada

Copyright © 1998
Published in Print by Zondervan, Grand Rapids

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible: New International Version.

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