1 Chronicles 4:9, 10 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.
Philippians 4:11-13 . . . for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
At first glance, these scriptures appear contradicting one to the other; but let us look closer. First, the "prayer of Jabez" has been written much about and studied greatly in the Body of Christ. It's lesson is very essential in living our lives before God. Jabez shows us that we don't have to settle for "life as we have been dealt." None of us can determine who our parents are, where we were born, and many of the circumstances of our early life. Jabez was born in pain and given the name, pain. He wanted more than a painful life. And he did the one thing that could make a difference in his life, he called out to God. He reached up to God for a "higher existence" and God answered his prayer.
Recently, we have looked in horror upon a family in California where thirteen children have been treated cruelly all their lives by their parents. And we have discovered their plight because of the great courage of one of the children who plotted her escape for two years and finally climbed through a window to venture out and get help. Thank God she got away and got the help they so desperately needed!
But what about Paul's statement of being content in every circumstance? Does that mean we just become a door mat and accept everything as it is? No!!! The key is in verse 13. We can do all things through Christ who gives us strength. The AA prayer, that we call the serenity prayer, is very essential: Lord, help me to accept the things I cannot change, to change the things I can, and give me the wisdom to know the difference.
And in the midst of my circumstances, don't let me gripe and grumble. Let me rise up in the strength of the Lord and in His wisdom and do what I can to take the high road to all that God can bring to pass in my life. We don't just settle for anything. We have been given everything. Let us lay hold of it. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing i do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.