Prayer To Learn The Lessons Of Suffering


The Value of Human Suffering

Prayer To Learn The Lessons Of Suffering

It has been said that there is no greater education than matriculating through the “University of Hard Knocks.” One thing is certain: many who have passed through the crucible of suffering will acknowledge that they have found themselves infinitely better for the experience—bitter though it may have been.

Robert Browning Hamilton expressed this thought so wonderfully in verse:

I walked a mile with PleasureShe chatted all the way,But left me none the wiserFor all she had to say.I walked a mile with SorrowAnd ne’er a word said she;But oh, the things I learned from her

When Sorrow walked with me!

Atheism, of course, alleges that the problem of human suffering represents one of the more formidable arguments against the existence of a powerful and loving God. It is not my intention to respond to that baseless argument here; I have addressed it elsewhere in detail (see Three Great Facts about God).

At this point, it will suffice simply to say that God has, as an expression of his love (1 John 4:8), granted mankind free will (Joshua 24:15; cf. Isaiah 7:15). That free will enables human beings to make their own choices. Foolish choices can sometimes have devastating consequences (e.g., suffering). Thus, the responsibility for unwise choices is man’s, not God’s.

The problem of human suffering is not irreconcilable with the love of a benevolent Creator. In this article, we will limit our discussion to the benefits that suffering can provide—if we are wise enough to learn the lessons.

Suffering: A Reminder of Our Infirmity

Suffering highlights the fact that we are frail human beings; that is to say, we are not God. Some, however, have no greater ambition than to be their own God. They are “autotheists”—self-gods.

They imagine that they are accountable to no one higher than themselves.

To borrow the words of the infidel poet, William Ernest Henley, they are the masters of their fate, and the captains of their souls! These rebels submit to no law save the self-imposed law of their own arrogant minds.

But when we suffer, we are forced to focus upon our own weakness. There is no remedy within us (see Job 6:13). It is hard to be haughty when you are hurting. Pain can be humbling; it can slap smart-aleckness us, and open our hearts to greater vistas.

Suffering: A Reason to Call upon the Lord

Suffering can draw our interests toward the true God. When one is in a state of anguish that offers little respite, the natural inclination is to turn toward a higher source for help. Only a deliberate and forced stubbornness can quench that urge. When we are hurting, the “God of all comfort” (2 Corinthians 1:3) is waiting to help.

Joe, a personal friend of mine, was taught the gospel of Christ and happily embraced it, being united with the Lord in baptism (Romans 6:3ff). For a while, this likable gentleman in his mid-forties struggled to remain faithful against the powerful, negative influences of a family that had zero interest in spiritual matters. Finally, he drifted away from conscientious service.

Then, Joe suffered a severe heart attack. He hastened back to the Savior and maintained a contented fidelity until, some months later, his spirit slipped quietly away into eternity.

Suffering can get our attention! David once wrote: “In my distress I called upon Jehovah, and cried unto my God” (Psalm 18:6).

Suffering: Insight into Sin

Suffering can assist us in seeing sin in all of its hideous gruesomeness. The Bible clearly teaches that this planet has been heir to suffering as a consequence of man’s sin.

This principle is set forth clearly by Paul in his letter to the Roman saints.

He affirmed that “through one man [Adam] sin entered into the world, and death through sin, so that death passed to all men, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12).

At the beginning of human history, sin, in a manner of speaking, was “crouching at the door” (see Genesis 4:7); when grandmother Eve (and subsequently her husband) opened that door, horrible effects were allowed to descend upon their offspring (Genesis 3:22).

And so death—with all its attendant evils—entered the human environment as a result of man’s rebellion against his Creator. When we suffer, it ought to be a sober reminder of how terrible sin is.

While we cannot escape the physical consequences of sin’s high price, we can refresh our souls in divine forgiveness. When that is done, life becomes immeasurably easier.

Suffering: Value Clarification

Suffering aids us in seeing the real worth of things. When one passes through the experience of intense suffering, and perhaps comes to the threshold of death, the entire world can take on new meaning. The singing of the birds is more vivid than it ever has been. A fresh spring day makes the soul ecstatic. Family and friends take on a new preciousness.

Christopher Reeve, who starred as Superman in the movies, was paralyzed in an accident, and discovered that in real life he was not as invincible as the character he portrayed. In interviews following his personal tragedy, Mr. Reeve commented that since being paralyzed, he had discovered a new zest for life.

Indeed, suffering can provide a sharper vision of life’s priorities. As the poet John Dryden expressed it: “We, by our suff’rings, learn to prize our bliss” (Astraea Redux).

He that hath an ear, let him hear what suffering whispers to the soul.

Suffering: The Seed of Compassion

Suffering prepares us to be compassionate to others. There is an old adage that says, “Do not judge a man until you’ve walked a mile in his shoes.”

I suggest another proverb: “One cannot comfort effectively until he has lain in the bed of suffering.” That may be a bit of an overstatement, but it contains a grain of truth. In the second chapter of Hebrews, the writer effectively argued that Jesus Christ, as our High Priest, is qualified to “succor” (ASV) or “aid” (NASV) those who are tempted.

How is that so? Hear him: “For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted” (Hebrews 2:18, NKJV).

The song lyric, “Are you weary? Are you heavyhearted? Tell it to Jesus; tell it to Jesus,” is wonderfully meaningful in light of this passage.

It has been said that the difference between “sympathy” (from the Greek syn, “with,” and pathos, “feeling”) and “empathy” (en, “in,” and pathos) is that in the former instance one “feels with” (i.e.

, has feelings of tenderness for) those who suffer, whereas in “empathy” one almost is able to “get inside” the friend who suffers—because the one doing the comforting has been there!

Suffering: Making Us “Homesick”

Suffering sharpens our awareness that this earth is not a permanent home.

Peter sought to encourage early Christians (who were being persecuted) not to despair, by reminding them that they were but “sojourners and pilgrims” upon this earth (1 Peter 2:11).

The ancient patriarchs “confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth” and so they looked for “a better country, that is a heavenly [one]” (Hebrews 11:13-16).

Paul reminded us that “the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed to us-ward” (Romans 8:18).

It is not the will of God that men live upon this evil-plagued planet forever. We never will be “at home” until we are with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8), and suffering helps make us “homesick.”

Henry Ward Beecher once said: “God washes the eyes by tears until they can behold the invisible land where tears shall come no more.”

Suffering: Teach Us How to Pray

Suffering enhances our ability to pray. Praying is an instinctive human response to severe hardship. But effective prayer is a learned exercise.

On a certain occasion during his ministry, Jesus was praying. After he had finished, one of the disciples requested of him: “Lord, teach us to pray, even as John also taught his disciples” (Luke 11:1). These Hebrew disciples had been praying all their lives; yet, they observed something in the intensity of Jesus’ prayers that sent them “back to school.”

With Calvary ever looming before him, Christ plumbed the depths of prayer. Note the following: “And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became as it were great drops of blood falling down upon the ground” (Luke 22:44).

A song suggests: “Pray when you’re happy; pray when in sorrow.” One should pray frequently, and in all moods; under the burden of suffering, however, one will learn how to pray as he never has prayed before.

Suffering: Grooming the Soul for Eternity

Suffering tempers the soul and helps prepare it for eternity. Peter wrote:

[N]ow for a little while, if necessary, ye have been distressed by various trials, that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:6-7).

Just as precious metals are purified by the heat of fire, so life’s trials in general, and suffering for Christ in particular, build strength into the soul. Character does not happen by accident; rather, it is built! the fires of suffering, the human spirit may emerge as precious as gold and as strong as steel.

Suffering: Engenders Nobility

Suffering nurtures the noblest virtues of which mankind is capable. Reflect for a moment upon the quality of courage. Civilizations universally perceive courage to be one of the prime traits of humanity, and, by way of contrast, cowardice is considered to be utterly reprehensible.

Courage may be defined as the ability to act rationally in the face of fear. If, however, the human family were immune to hardship, danger, suffering, etc., there could be no facing it, hence, no courage.

When we sit down to a delicious dinner with friends and loved ones on a balmy autumn evening, no courage is needed. Courage arises in the presence of danger. There are certain qualities that we simply cannot possess in the absence of hardship.

Ralph Sockman wrote:

Without danger there would be no adventure. Without friction our cars would not start and our spirits would not soar. Without tears, eyes would not shine with the richest expressions (1961, 66).

And what of “patience”? John Chrysostom (347-407 A.D.), one of the most influential figures among the “church fathers” of the post-apostolic period, described patience as “the mother of piety, fruit that never withers, a fortress that is never taken, a harbour that knows no storms” (as quoted in Barclay 1974, 145).

But could there ever be patience in the absence of difficulty?

Suffering: Character Probe

Suffering separates the superficial from the stable. Paul cautioned the Corinthian saints against building up the church superficially. Some folks are of the “wood, hay, [and] stubble” variety, while others exhibit those qualities of “gold, silver [and] costly stones” (1 Corinthians 3:12-15). Saints of the latter category endure; those of the former do not.

Why so? It is simply because the two groups are tested by “fire” (hardships), and that testing fire separates quality converts from those who really are not serious about their Christian commitment.

Jesus once spoke of those who receive the gospel impulsively, and, for a while endure. Eventually, though, “tribulation and persecution” arise, and rather quickly the superficial fade away (see Matthew 13:20-21).

And so, while no one actively seeks suffering in his life, honesty compels us to admit that hardships do have value—great value. Certainly, the existence of suffering is not a valid reason for rejecting the Creator.
[Note: This material is incorporated into our book, The Bible and Mental Health.]

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Teaching Kids to Pray During Times of Suffering, Abuse, or Death

Prayer To Learn The Lessons Of Suffering

Keep me as the apple of the eye; Hide me in the shadow of Your wings; From the wicked who despoil me, My deadly enemies who surround me. ~ Psalm 17:8-9

**Preface – Suffering, abuse, and death are emotional and highly sensitive topics. I am no expert, but I do know my God. If you are someone who can give wisdom to others who might be dealing with these issues, then please add biblically solid counsel in the comment section. Also, if you EVER suspect abuse, please call the authorities. Thank you. ~ Anne Marie **

Suffering children can be found anywhere in the world. Walk into any local school and talk with the teachers and you will hear stories that break your heart. Children’s ministry leaders deal with broken-hearted children as well. Those of us teaching Bible to kids deal with not only the hard problems, but the spiritual brokenness that comes through the hurt.

Children can suffer from:

  • physical, mental, emotional, or sexual abuse
  • diseases such as childhood cancer and diabetes
  • neglect and malnutrition
  • effects of war
  • divorce
  • death of a parent or other family member
  • rape

Christian Counseling is great. Medical assistance is a must. And we parents and leaders MUST prepare our children to say NO when in a situation that is uncomfortable, to stand up for themselves when someone tries to harm them, and to run away from harm to a safe adult, if possible.

Communication about Suffering, Abuse, or Death:

If a child suffers trauma, we must communicate that he is not beyond redemption.

Healing of all kinds can take place! She must understand that it is OK to feel sad and cry, but to not allow bitterness to take root in her heart.

When scary images and thoughts threaten to take over their minds, we can encourage them to ask God to capture those thoughts and pictures and take them away.

Why is There Suffering, Abuse, and Death?

The easy answer for why there is suffering, abuse, and death is because there is sin in the world. The complicated answer is…because there is sin in the world. Grief and sorrow have been a part of life ever since Adam and Eve made their choice in the garden. Adam and Eve had free will which allowed them to choose to eat the fruit which allowed sinful behaviors.

People today still have that same free will and people sometimes choose to hurt other people. It wasn’t long until Adam and Eve had to deal with the death of their son and the fact that the other son was a murderer.

How Should We Pray Through Suffering, Abuse, or Death?

If you have a child who is suffering, be sure to talk about heaven! There WILL be an end to all suffering. There WILL be a time when people will not hurt other people. There WILL be a place where death does not exist!

Every person should be anticipating heaven and the return of Jesus. But those who deal with suffering are walking a road where desiring freedom from pain and suffering makes heaven more precious.

Why does God allow suffering? Because he loves us enough to give us free will. He allows us to either love him, or reject him. Trust him, or not. But there is one truth we must have our children always remember: ANYTHING bad that happens will turn out good in some way at the right time.

Prepare to Pray!

You know what your child is struggling with. If you have younger children, you will want to choose one or two verses for them to learn to pray.

Do you have older children? Have them read through the following verses and choose one or two.

Click on the image below to print FREE PRAYER CARDS. Choose the age-appropriate printable for your children and print on card stock.

Grab a pen and write down the chosen verses, or have your child write them down.

Verses to Help Us Pray through Suffering, Abuse, and Death:

The Lord said, “I have surely seen the affliction of My people who are in Egypt, and have given heed to their cry because of their taskmasters, for I am aware of their sufferings.” ~ Exodus 3:7

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. ~ Psalm 23:4

O Lord my God, I cried to You for help, and You healed me. ~ Psalm 30:2

Let those be ashamed and humiliated together Who seek my life to destroy it; Let those be turned back and dishonored Who delight in my hurt. ~ Psalm 40:14

For You have delivered my soul from death, Indeed my feet from stumbling, So that I may walk before God In the light of the living. ~ Psalm 56:13

God is to us a God of deliverances; And to God the Lord belong escapes from death. ~ Psalm 68:20

Precious in the sight of the Lord Is the death of His godly ones. ~ Psalm 116:15

But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed. ~ Isaiah 53:5

Heal me, O Lord, and I will be healed; Save me and I will be saved, For You are my praise. ~ Jeremiah 17:14

The news about Him spread throughout all Syria; and they brought to Him all who were ill, those suffering with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, paralytics; and He healed them. ~ Matthew 4:24

Those passing by were hurling abuse at Him, wagging their heads, and saying, “Ha! You who are going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days. ~ Mark 15:29

But when Jesus heard this, He said, “This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it.” ~ John 11:4

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. ~ Romans 8:18

But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is effective in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer, ~ 2 Corinthians 1:6

Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. ~ Philippians 2:8

That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; ~ Philippians 3:10

For indeed he was sick to the point of death, but God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, so that I would not have sorrow upon sorrow. ~ Philippians 2:27

Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us eternal comfort and good hope by grace, comfort and strengthen your hearts in every good work and word. ~ 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17

Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. ~ James 5:16

And He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. ~ 1 Peter 2:24

And He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” ~ Revelation 21:4

Now Pray!

Encourage your children to not just read the words, but to pray them.

Click on the image below for all of the articles in this series.

{All of these verses link to BibleGateway. If you would rather choose a different version of the scriptures, then click the link and choose the version you want.}

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5 Lessons the Bible Teaches Us About Pain and Suffering

Prayer To Learn The Lessons Of Suffering

The Book of Job is one of my favorites in the Bible. Some argue that it’s the most depressing. The thing I love most about it is Job’s faith. Whenever I’m going through something and feel I’m losing all hope, I read the book of Job.

As believers we’ve all been there — or will be there. We may earnestly seek God, but in return only sense His silence. And this silence can be difficult, frustrating even excruciating.

The Bible tells the story of a man named Job, who was well acquainted with pain and suffering. In his pain and suffering, he cried out to God. He asked for answers. And he kept asking.

But for the first 37 chapters of the book of Job, his cries for God’s help and relief were met only by God’s deafening silence.

As Christians, we are not always going to hear God’s voice, but from Job we can learn a few practical things to do when God seems silent.

Here are 5 Lessons the Book of Job Teaches Us About Pain and Suffering…

Begin by asking yourself the question, Is there any unconfessed sin in my life? Make sure nothing is blocking you from being able to hear God’s voice.

Psalm 66:18 says, “If I had not confessed the sin in my heart, my Lord would not have listened” (New Living Translation). This requires looking deeper than the obvious.

Ask yourself: Do I have wrong motives? Is there anything (or anyone) that I love more than God?

As God brings things to mind, quickly ask for His forgiveness.

And remember, there’s no shame in repentance. This act of faith pleases God and restores our fellowship with Him.

2. Accept God’s Sovereignty

Recognize that God can be silent. There is no obligation for God to answer you, inform you or let you know anything.

us, Job faced the choice of acknowledging — or rejecting — the sovereignty of God. In response to his suffering and loss, Job’s wife suggests he curse God and die.

Instead of following her advice, Job chooses to let God be God.

Job’s response: “Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?” (Job 2:10)

Accepting God’s sovereignty also means actively trusting God, realizing He is in control and can be trusted.

“Though He slay me, I will hope in Him” (Job 13:15).

Nothing in Job’s life, or ours, happens apart from God’s knowledge and plan. As we learn at the beginning of the Book of Job, God was fully aware of all the things that were about to happen to Job.

In fact, He gave Satan permission to do these things in Job’s life. At no point does God release His control.

3. Listen To What God Is Saying

Although God may seem silent regarding a specific request or petition, remember that He is always in a constant state of communication with us.

In fact, it is possible that you already have an answer from God. The Bible is full of specific answers about what is right and wrong as well as information about God’s character and His intention for us as His children and His followers.

So don’t forget to dig into God’s Word — His written communication to us — to find out what He has to say about the problems you’re facing or the questions you’re asking.

As you read the Bible, ask God to speak to you through the Holy Spirit, who lives inside of you. Often verses can have new significance in light of current problems you are facing.

4. Recognize That Silence Can Be Intimate

Silence can also be a sign of God’s trust.

To Job, God’d silence could have been interpreted as neglect — that Jesus didn’t care or didn’t want to help him.

This mirrors many of the emotions we feel when God doesn’t immediately answer our cries for help.

But in silence we are drawn into a new closeness to God and understanding of His power.

When you are completely comfortable with a person, it is possible to sit in a room together and not utter a word.

In love, silence can be a sign of intimacy.

For Job, God’s silence was also a result of the depth of their relationship. When Satan approached God, He said, “Have you considered My servant Job?” (Job 1:8). In trust, God chose Job.

5. Keep Talking To God

Just because God seems silent doesn’t mean you should doubt Him or stop praying.

God’s silence isn’t a license for us to turn our backs on Him. Instead, it’s an invitation to press forward and seek Him even more diligently.

For pages of the Book of Job, God is silent. But in chapter 38, God answers — and questions Job.

“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?” asks God. “Tell Me, if you have understanding” (Job 38:4).

God is in control and has been all along. He heard Job’s cries for help. In trust, He waited for the perfect time to speak. Job was reminded.

God answers prayer.

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Powerful Prayer to Get You through the Worst

Prayer To Learn The Lessons Of Suffering

The power of prayer is beyond anyone’s belief. No one can truly understand the grace and strength that lies behind the words derived from the heart and cultivated into prayer.

When you communicate to the Lord, the utmost truth and selflessness is produced because you’re shedding all of the preconceived notions and stereotypes that consume your day-to-day. Instead you’re allowing Jesus Christ to take the wheel and be your sole navigator.

Powerful prayer can take you into another realm of thinking – a place where the impossible suddenly doesn’t feel all that unattainable. Overall, it’s a place where everything feels it has a place and isn’t destitute to chaos.

It’s important to remember that powerful prayer is different for every individual because it’s various circumstances – what’s going on in your life, what’s troubling you, what are your goals, what are the things you’re trying to avoid, what are your shortcomings and many other elements. When you find a prayer or derive one from your own words, it’s important to keep it close to your heart.

Romans 5:1-11

Father God, we thank you that your amazing unfathomable love has been poured out for us at the cross and poured into us by the Holy Spirit. We want to taste and experience more of the depth and breadth and length and height of your amazing love. Help us to walk by faith.

Help us to endure in suffering. Help us to own our need of you. Help us fully embrace your Son, Jesus Christ, our Redeemer. So, pour out your love into our hearts, in increasing measure by the power of your Holy Spirit, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

It is in his name that we pray, Amen.

Without our Father we’d all be lost. His unmeasurable love has given us life and provided us with the building blocks to continue with His guidance.

It’s important that we recognize his suffering and not let it go in vain. Therefore, Jesus Christ will and should always remain our number one focus and reason for life.

If we keep Him our focus and reason for life, everything else will fall into place.

2 Corinthians 5:6-10

Father God, we praise you for using us to bring joy to your Son, Jesus Christ. In the midst of all the struggles, pressures, and discouragement we face while in our frail, failing bodies, please continue transforming us into servants who are always of good courage.

Lead us by your Holy Spirit to find rest in the grand promises that you’ve revealed to us in your Word. We confess that we are weak and that we need your help. Prepare us for the day when you will judge an account of all our works and offenses.

Though we do not deserve your grace, we cannot even begin to express our gratitude for nailing our guilt and shame upon the cross through your crucified Son. Lord, we earnestly long to experience the moment when you will declare to us, “Well done good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your master.

” Help us this week as we continue our walk of faith looking forward to the day when our faith will become sight. It is in the name of Jesus that we pray, Amen.

As Christians, we are children of God, and as His people we understand and thrive in His approval and guidance. We know that we are weak and cannot achieve greatness without His love and support.

It’s important that whatever we choose to do in life that we make sure that we’re also honoring God in the process.

God’s love does not hold judgement and He is forgiving of the mistakes that we make along the way, it’s important to continue our walk with Him by our side.

Genesis 37:1-11

God we thank you for the love and favor you extend to us who believe in Jesus Christ. We confess that we do not deserve your overwhelming grace towards sinners us. We praise you though for choosing to make us new creations through our union in Christ’s death resurrection. Please turn us from evil thoughts and worldly distractions diverting our attention from you.

Allow the Holy Spirit to open up our yes to clearly see your revelation in the Bible every day. Help us to learn from the examples of men and women that you have given us in your Word so that we might live more holy lives for your glory. Use your Church here and around the globe to shine brightly for our dark world.

We pray all this in the name of Jesus Christ and for his sake, Amen.

We are thankful to Jesus Christ for the sacrifice that He made in order for us to live. We ask that God help us stay pure and assist His children in making the right decisions in life. All in all, we have faith in the Lord and know that we can honor Him and live a glorious life which is faith driven.

The Bible is packed with life-changing scriptures and verses that we read and listen to during service. These powerful prayers give us the strength and hope when it is light and dark. Allow these prayers to embody your day-to-day. Allow the words to fill your heart with joy.

Find solitude within the inspirational words and allow them to comfort you when you’re troubled. When you feel comfortable with your faith and prayer, then you can cultivate your own powerful prayer using the words the Lord has helped you learn.

The more times you recite this prayer and find it useful, you’ll feel invigorated by the power of prayer.

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Prayer of Jabez: Scripture Reference and 5 Lessons To Learn From It

Prayer To Learn The Lessons Of Suffering

The Prayer of Jabez is found in 1 Chronicles 4:10. This passage of scripture is very easy to miss while reading.  It is tucked away in a huge section about the lineage of David.  What is this prayer all about?  As always, let us look into the Word of God for answers.  Note: all scriptures not referenced are all from the verse in 1 Chronicles 4:10.

The Prayer of Jabez

The prayer of Jabez found in 1 Chronicles 4:10 reads as follows, “Jabez called upon the God of Israel, saying, ‘Oh that You would bless me and enlarge my border, and that Your hand might be with me, and that You would keep me from harm so that  it might not bring me pain!’  And God granted what he asked.”  Now let us break down this verse into pieces and see what we can learn from it.

The Irony of it All

Right before his prayer, there is almost a side note in the preceding verse that should be noted.  1 Chronicles 4:9 reads, “Jabez was more honorable than his brothers; and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, ‘Because I bore him in pain.

’”  I have no doubt that Jabez had a strong faith in God to pray a prayer that would counter the meaning of his name.

  Jabez asked God, “’Keep me from harm so that it might not bring me pain!’”  He knew that his name was drenched in the word ‘pain’ and he wanted nothing to do with it.  God saw his faithfulness and humility by his actions, which is why I believe God granted his prayer.

  This doesn’t mean that everyone who prays this will earn God’s favor in their prayer though.  God is just and He answers however He pleases.  That is why He is sovereign over all things.  He is in control of all things.

Jabez Called on God

Jabez understood the importance of prayer. “Jabez called upon the God of Israel.” Any self-proclaimed Christian can believe in God and completely miss a major point of the faith, in prayer.

  Not only did Jabez understand how to pray, but he prayed this prayer out loud.  He called on God.  I don’t recall a single passage of scripture where someone called on God silently.  Jabez was not afraid to show his faith out loud.  This is a great testimony.

  How often do you pray out loud in a secular setting?

Jabez Understood God’s Favor

May we all strive to pray Jabez did!

Jabez was a descendant of David.  He knew the story of “the man after God’s own heart.”  He knew the story of David defeating Goliath, showing strength from God in the midst of trials.  He knew the bond David had with Jonathon, showing true love for our brothers and sisters.

  Knowing the back stories to one of the greatest men to live on earth, Jabez understood what God’s favor was all about. “Oh that You would bless me and enlarge my border.”   He knew how God had blessed David, no doubt.  He knew how amazing the power of God is by how David conducted his own life.

  So, with that in mind and a sincere heart, Jabez asked God for more provisions.

Jabez and God’s Own Hand

“And that Your hand might be with me.”  Jabez also knew other amazing things about David, including all of the war stories and Psalms that he wrote.

  David constantly was calling on God for protection, provision, and strength.  Jabez must have known the Psalms that David had written, along with the others that David did not write.

  Here are some that would have possibly prompted him to ask for God’s hand.

“The Lord is my strength and my shield.” (Psalm 28:7a)

“Make haste to help me, O Lord, my salvation!” (Psalm 38:22)

“You are my help and my deliverer; do not delay, O my God!” (Psalm 40:17b)

“A thousand may fall at Your side, ten thousand at Your right hand, but it will not come near You.  You will only look with Your eyes and see the recompense of the wicked.” (Psalm 91:7-8)

Jabez knew that God is powerful enough to look on His enemy to bring destruction, such as the plagues in Egypt when Pharaoh refused to let Israel go free.  God doesn’t even have to move.  He can think things into motion.  Jabez was confident in the power of God, so calling on God to keep His hand on him was his way of showing his reliance on God.

God Gives Blessings

“And God granted what he asked.”  God loves us and wants to bless us.

  One of my favorite verses is Zephaniah 3:17 which says, “The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty One who will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you by His love; He will exult over you with loud singing.

Doesn’t this bring overwhelming joy to your soul?  God wants to show His love for us by rejoicing over us!  That is AWESOME!  God is always faithful to us.

  God granted Jabez’s request, I believe, because Jabez believed in Psalm 37:4, which says, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.”  Nothing happens outside of the will of God.  Jabez understood this and so he must have prayed in accordance with the will of God.  If you really are “Delighting yourself in the Lord”, you will always be asking for things according to His will.


The prayer of Jabez is one tiny little verse of 1 Chronicles, but it is packed with a valuable testimony of Jabez’s understanding and loyalty to God.  May we all strive to pray Jabez did!  God bless you as you live a life worthy of the calling!

Prayers from the Bible

Resources –  The Holy Bible, English Standard Version “Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.” video “Song of Jabez” by Paul Baloche

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To Suffer Is to Act: Lessons on Suffering from Literature – Biola University Center for Christian Thought / The Table

Prayer To Learn The Lessons Of Suffering

“‘Let it happen’ is not so very far from ‘Make it happen,’ if we consider the mysterious subjunctive potency of the word in God’s first command, ‘Let there be light.'”

Suffering, in this sense of a fully volitional allowing, is active and prophetic. It steps wholly into the moment with a clarity of acceptance and embrace that transforms the inevitable and welcomes it.

Consider the calm, sure reckoning with death in Jane Kenyon’s “Let Evening Come.

” A series of assents, each beginning with a clear and forceful “Let,” cascades through the poem, culminating in a strong claim before the final submission to “evening” and, one may imagine, death:

“God will not leave us comfortless, so / Let evening come.”

In a similar vein, the poems in Mary Bradish O’Connor’s Say Yes, Quickly chronicle dark months of treatment for terminal ovarian cancer. The author considers her illness as a sign of her times, starting with memories of a childhood in suburbs where streets were sprayed with DDT.

The title betokens an urgency, not to find a cure, nor to die, nor to avoid pain, but an urgent awareness of necessity, to which “Yes” is the answer that will reframe months of suffering and reclaim them, coming to terms with life in an entirely new way. Suffering, in these poems, is anything but passive, or even resigned.

It is a rigorous, vigorous exploration of limits that becomes paradoxically liberating. It is a task, an assignment, a learning, and an offering.

Pain is Pain: “The Full Look at the Worst”

An aesthetic temptation and moral danger besets such testimonies to personal suffering, undertaken and borne with dignity and grace. It is easy to be too glib about the wisdom or benefit suffering confers. The final lines of Randall Jarrell’s “90 North” are a helpful reminder to those too quick to spiritualize physical or mental suffering:

“Pain comes from the darkness / And we call it wisdom. It is pain.”

This bleak refusal to treat pain as either means or metaphor is salutary, especially for those inclined to avoid what Thomas Hardy called the “full look at the worst” that is prerequisite to healing or resolution.

“Suffering, she reminds us, does not necessarily ennoble people. It can. But it makes many bitter, selfish, and small.”

Ruth Kluger, a Holocaust survivor whose autobiography, Still Alive, resists valorization of her own and others’ suffering, insists that the suffering that took place in Auschwitz and other death camps must not be made “tragic,” nor the victims’ sufferings necessarily “heroic,” though many were.

The arbitrary brutality, the meaningless cruelty, the pathological sadism and ruthless excesses of self-preservation that characterized behaviors of both victims and perpetrators, she maintains, must not be seen as part of some overarching, redemptive historical lesson, or as a sacrifice that partakes of the sacred. Though stories abound of authentic, often Christ- self-sacrifice, reconstruction of the genocide as “tragic” would, she argues, come dangerously close to legitimation. Suffering, she reminds us, does not necessarily ennoble people. It can. But it makes many bitter, selfish, and small.

To Suffer Is to Act: Learning Well From Suffering

If this is true, then how are we to recognize and honor the redemptive dimension of suffering? And how do we prepare ourselves for such sufferings as may befall us—to suffer when we are called to do so, not only willingly, but wisely, and to allow that suffering to be a teacher? Perhaps the only way is to bear willing witness to our and others’ suffering, to honor the complexities of sorrow, to listen to the language writers wring from pain and loss, and to find language that keeps us humble before the metaphysical mystery to which all suffering points.

Inhabiting Her Tears: The Witness of William Faulkner’s Dilsey

William Faulkner attempted to bear such witness in his memorable portrait of Dilsey, longsuffering servant to the deeply dysfunctional Compson household, in the final chapter of The Sound and the Fury. As a white man, Faulkner’s access to the suffering of an old black woman, servant to an embittered, disintegrating, and thankless family, was, he knew, limited.

But he gives us her tears. As she listens on her hard-won Sabbath rest to Reverend Sheegog’s Easter sermon, what she has suffered emerges in the safe space of a worshiping community where she can lay her burden down. As readers, we are called to humility as we are invited to imagine her pain.

Though it is public, it is as utterly personal as the wracked and worn body that sags beneath the purple Easter garb in which she appears, iconic and ”indomitable” in the opening paragraphs of the chapter. Dilsey’s suffering signifies, in the fullest sense of that word—bringing forth meaning in the story she inhabits.

For her to suffer is to act, and indeed, her suffering seems to be the only redemptive action in this bleak tale of spiritual squalor.

Love It Hard: The Scars of Toni Morrison’s Sethe

Similarly, in Toni Morrison’s Beloved, Sethe, a former slave, carries in her own scarred body a share in the suffering of a people not yet free. In her escape from slavery, Sethe has faced down death and violation at great risk and cost.

In killing her own child to prevent her falling into the hands of white men, she embarks on a personal descent into hell.

In the “chokecherry tree” on her back—a web of scars from the beatings she sustained—she literally bears stripes that, though they are not Christ’s, point to suffering of a kind that, matured by endurance and transformed by testimony and prayer can fuel a collective determination to challenge and disempower violence and inhumanity.

“As readers, we are called to humility as we are invited to imagine her pain.”

The complexity of Sethe’s moral situation as murderer and victim offers another way of understanding that “to act is to suffer, and suffering is action.” She grows into her role as representative of a new, liberated generation, under the tutelage of Baby Suggs, a prophetic figure equal in stature to Dilsey.

The scene in which Baby Suggs calls together the men and women of her community, many of them fugitive slaves, and commands them first to recognize themselves as beings capable of loving and being loved, then, in each other’s presence, to cry, laugh, and finally dance, is one of the most remarkable figurings of suffering and action in twentieth-century literature.

Without apology she calls upon those who suffer to act on their own and each other’s behalf:

‘Here,’ she said, ‘in this here place, we flesh; flesh that weeps, laughs; flesh that dances on bare feet in grass. Love it. Love it hard. Yonder they do not love your flesh. They despise it. They don’t love your eyes; they’d just as soon pick em out. No more do they love the skin on your back.

Yonder they flay it. And O my people they do not love your hands. Those they only use, tie, bind, chop off and leave empty. Love your hands! Love them. Raise them up and kiss them. Touch others with them, pat them together, stroke them on your face ‘cause they don’t love that either.

You got to love it, you!’ (Morrison, 88)

Liturgically, and with a power born of deep reflection on her own suffering, she leads her people through sorrow into recognition, release, and finally joy.

First they weep—and even their weeping must be learned.

It is the initial stage of reinvigoration that culminates in going forth, back into a hostile world, more equipped to embrace their difficult lives and begin the long work of preparing for transformation.

Waiting in Faith

Action rooted in suffering is the costliest kind. To allow pain to be forged into prophecy is to collaborate with God to wreak good the maelstrom of evil. The transformation is God’s work, not ours.

For us, whatever we suffer, whatever suffering we witness, the work is to consent to awareness, to stay awake in the dark, to testify, encourage, wait, and be watchful for those moments when our own or others’ suffering may be turned to divine purposes we couldn’t anticipate, whose magnitude we cannot measure.

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