Archives For cowardice

Jabez Was A Coward

      I may be several years late to this party, but I would like to reconsider Jabez. It seems like a cottage industry sprung up around this guy. He’s mentioned thrice in First Chronicles four, but then never again. We are told in verse nine that “Jabez was more honorable than his brothers.” Well and good, but the text is just as interesting for what it includes as for what it doesn’t. It’s somewhat relative: who exactly were his brothers, and what did it take to be more honorable than them? “And his mother called his name Jabez, saying, “Because I bore him in pain.”” “Jabez” apparently sounds like the Hebrew word for pain. Thus it seems that Jabez was a bit of a pain! But seriously, it’s curious to me that the text makes no mention of a father. Perhaps this was the source of his mother’s pain? That he was born out of wedlock? That’s a possibility, but we can’t know for sure (though we do know he had brothers).              Whatever the cause, I want to look closely at verse ten: “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 [or evil] so that it might not bring me pain!”” So he wanted God to bless him—ok. Who doesn’t want to be blessed? And apparently he wanted more land as well, and who doesn’t want to own property? It’s all about the equity, right? He wanted God’s hand to be with him—again, a good thing, right? Who doesn’t want God to be with them? Wouldn’t it be far better, though, to be with God? It’s the next part of Jabez’s prayer that’s key to me: “keep me from harm so that it might not bring me pain!” Really? You want God to bless you, put His hand on you, enlarge your borders, for what? So that you can be comfortable? Free from harm, pain? Way to squander your honor! May as well pray to be free from risk–from both the joys and stings of life. Free from love. There’s no running “a mission a yard from the gates of hell” here—no, Jabez is safe within his borders. And the kicker? “And God granted what he asked.” Yes, Jabez is highlighted here in First Chronicles—I believe under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit—but perhaps not for the reasons we’ve always assumed. Jabez was a coward.
(You may think I’m reading something into the text that isn’t there—that’s possible. If so, I’d love to hear your take in the comments. Thanks for reading, and thanks for your feedback!)
(All quotations taken from the English Standard Version of the Bible).

>A Coward Like Me

randomlychad  —  October 22, 2010 — Leave a comment


A Coward Like Me
      I’m a coward. Let me get that off my chest right now. I am a fearful man. Like most folks, I want you to think well of me. And I’m afraid of what you’ll think if you see the real me. Which is one of the reasons that this blog exists—to push myself past the fear, to encourage those who, like me, are afraid to be real. Despite this, I’m still a coward. Let me explain.
      For most of my Christian walk, I thought it was my duty to preserve the peace at all costs. I did my level-headed best at this, and most times failed miserably—leaving hurt, angry parties all around me. As an example–for the better portion of the last twenty years–I let my dad be rude to my wife in myriad ways. I say “let” because I allowed it to continue (I don’t blame him). Instead of standing up for her, I acted out of the conviction, the sacred duty, that I must keep the peace. My precious bride, mother of my children, I failed her so miserably. And that is just one example.
      All this came to a head on Father’s Day of 2009. My dad called to wish me a happy Father’s Day. He called on my wife’s line.
“Is Chad there?”
“Who’s calling, please?”
“Chad’s dad.”
“Oh, hi. This is Lisa.”
“I know. Let me speak to Chad.”
She handed me the phone, tears welling in her eyes… And I choked. I had an opportunity to handle things then, and didn’t. As I reflected on it, it grew inside me… And I emailed him. Told him he wasn’t welcome to call until he took an etiquette class and at least be polite on the phone. But even in this, I took the coward’s way out: I used email. At the time, I told my wife that I was too angry to call, but I was probably too afraid. There was a tension inside me—contorting, twisting—that squelched my courage. I felt like a little boy. And what little boy can confront a grown man?
      I did this again recently with a friendship that wasn’t growing as I hoped it would. While I think it right and proper that I did the pruning, I again used email to do it. Again, I shrank back from the discomfort of confrontation. If I had it to do over again, I would invite this friend to sit down with me so we could hash it out together (the outcome may well have been the same). But I don’t. And that is my encouragement to you: don’t shrink back from the uncomfortable situations in your life—press through them. For it is in them that we grow. Don’t be a coward like me.