THE PRAYER OF JABEZ

HAVE YOU EVER HEARD OF JABEZ? Check out 1 Chronicles 4 buried among some of the most intimidating chapters in the bible. The first nine chapters of this history book are made up of genealogies. The writer is tracing the official Jewish family tree from Adam through thousands of years to the present, about 500 BC.  In mid-litany, the chronicler stops.  One name deserves special comment. The briefest of biographies unfolds. In just two verses-9 and 10-we learn everything the Bible has to say about this man, Jabez:  “Now Jabez was more honorable than his brothers, and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, ‘Because I bore him in pain.’

And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, ‘Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your had would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!’ So God granted him what He requested.”

There it is, the story of a man who started with almost nothing, but gloomy prospects, cried out a simple prayer, and ended up a man of honor in the eyes of God.

Why is this minibiography so compelling? For one thing, in Jabez’s story we find a record of his personal transformation. We see beginning, middle, and end. We even learn why and how his radical turnaround happened.

MORE TO COME, TOMORROW NIGHT………………

WHAT DO YOUR CHILDREN SEE WHEN YOU ARE TOGETHER????

DO THEY SEE LOVING PARENTS WHO ARE ACTING AND DOING WHAT JESUS CHIRST WOULD EXPECT OF THEM?  After all, aren’t we taught that children are a blessing given to us by God to raise so that they will learn to: KNOW, LOVE AND SERVE GOD SO THEY CAN BE IN HEAVEN WITH HIM SOME DAY?

A program on Catholic Radio was about this subject today.  I got me to thinking about my parents.  One time when us children were talking to my father we asked him: “Dad, how come we never saw you and Mom fighting?”.  His answer: “I guess we never got mad at the same time.”

This kind of astounded us and we wondered how that could possibly be?  My parents had 7 children, and none of us ever saw them fight, much less act like they were mad at each other.  They went through some very rough times. They got married during the depression. They went through WWII and the wars after that.  During WWII there was very little food, they had food coupons for most of the food. My father worked in the shoe shop, my mother worked in an office so they were OK the first year, then I was born. She stopped working, 2 yrs later my brother was born. My father’s mother lived with us and was about 65 and frail when I was born.

A few years later, my father quit his job, bought a failing shoe repair business from an old man.  He made very little money at first, in fact we did not have a TV or a car until I was in high school.  Everyone else on our street had one, long before us. We wore hand me down clothes.  There were no used clothing stores in those days, friends just passed the clothes down to other children when their children out grew them.  We had very little money.  My father worked a good 60 hours a week at least. But not on Sunday. That was a day to go to church, no mater how tired or bury they were. Then my father did work around the house in the morning and my mother cooked a big dinner and we had family time for the rest of the day.  They had it rough, so why didn’t they fight. Why weren’t they angry?  In fact, when my brother was 16, my father became ill and was in the hospital for several days and out of work for weeks.  My brother went to school, then went to my fathers shop, did what he could to keep money coming in for 6 kids. That was when my mother found out she was pregnant with their 7th child.  And, no, they never considered abortion. And they were worried, but not angry. They prayed together. I used to hear them saying the OUR FATHER together at night.  How did they do it????

I read a book many years ago about how to avoid abusive and angry fights between husband and wives.  How to avoid saying things that hurt.  How to avoid scaring and hurting children in the process.  It explains how my mother and father managed their life and love. And yes, they loved. They kissed good by in the morning and when my father came home at night.  They said encouraging things to each other, especially when money was tight and one of them was discouraged. During miscarriages, injuries, illness, etc. And we know they made love.

This is what they did, I believe. This is what the book said.  “When your spouse starts yelling at you, calling you names, accusing you of things… resist the temptation to yell back, resist the temptation to defend yourself.  Pretend you are a fly on the wall, listening to that person, like you are not involved.”  YES IT IS HARD TO DO.  But it works. “Let the angry person talk until that person is done.  Don’t say a word.  When that person is done, reply, ‘Thank you for telling me how you feel” Or, I’m sorry you feel that way.’  Then if you are:on the phone, hang up and go about your business. Or in person, walk away.”  It will take practice. Later when all is calm, or when you come home and it is quiet, say: ‘We need to talk.”  Start the conversation with::”I am confused or I am sorry or what can I do differently?  Then you need to listen….and then agree to try to work together, etc.  Never put the blame on the other person, and never start the conversation with YOU. Always, start with: ‘I am sorry”.  I know this is hard and not fair.

But what is you ultimate goal? TO RAISE HAPPY CHILDREN, TO TEACH THEM HOW TO GET TO HEAVEN AND TO GET THEIR YOURSELVES.

Remember:  What would Mary(Jesus mother) and Joseph do?  They didn’t know at first they were raising the Son of God.  They thought they were raising a young boy to become a man, and they definitely had it rough. Mary traveled miles on a mule when she was 9 months pregnant. They had to flee to Egypt. He was a carpenter. They had to start over with nothing in Egypt.  And then they had to go back home and start over again.  Did they fight.  I doubt it, they trusted God to do what was best. Perhaps, the offered their suffering up to God as a prayer?

OK, HERE IS ANOTHER THING I HEARD TODAY.  In America, people are always fighting about money.  They never have enough.  All any of us need is, food, clothes, a place to live and money to pay the every month bills.  Everything after that is luxury to a good part of the world.  SO WE HAVE TO ASK OURSELVES, WHAT DOES A CHRISTIAN REALY NEED?  ARE WE WORSHIPING GOD OR MONEY? ARE WE FIGHTING ABOUT MONEY WHEN WE SHOULD BE THANKING GOD WE ARE ABLE TO WORK AND MAKE ENOUGH MONEY TO FEED, CLOTH AND HOUSE OUR CHILDREN?  Are we thanking God when we have extra to be able to put toward maybe going back to school, or putting something toward a home? How about being about to live where we want instead of a war torn country?

SO THE QUESTION IS:  AS SPOUSES, ARE WE ENCOURAGING EACH OTHER IN OUR DAILY LIVES WHEN WE DO OUR DAILY WORK AND CHORES?.  OR DISCOURAGING EACH OTHER AND PUTTING EACH OTHER DOWN?  WHAT DO OUR CHILDREN SEE?

WHAT ARE WE TEACHING OUR CHILDREN????  WILL IT GET THEM AND US TO HEAVEN? ARE WE BUILDING EACH OTHER UP OR PUTTING EACH OTHER DOWN  IS IT ALL ABOUT MONEY?  HOW MUCH DO WE REALLY NEED?

REMEMBER: ALL WE NEED TO DO AND TEACH OUR CHILDREN IS TO:  KNOW LOVE AND SERVE GOD SO WE CAN BE IN HEAVEN WITH HIM ONE DAY. IS THAT WHAT WE ARE DOING FOR THE PRECIOUS CHILDREN GOD GAVE US? IF NOT, ARE WE ASKING JESUS CHRIST TO HELP US DO WHAT HE WANTS?

I GET KNOCKED DOWN, BUT I GET UP AGAIN, by Jake Frost

Life is more about getting up than it is about not falling. So my father commented once, long time ago when we were watching figure skating.

It was the return of Scott Hamilton after his battle with cancer. For those too young to remember, Scott Hamilton was an amazing figure skater who leaped to fame by perfecting a backflip on ice. ……

He was a champion-with an Olympic gold medal, four US Championships,etc. But at the height of his fame, he go cancer.  His battle …left him so weak that he couldn’t skate anymore.  …………….

But eventually he beat the cancer, began working toreagain his strength and perhaps return to the ice. Then came a nationally televised professional figure skating competition, and Hamilton got a spon in the program to make his return………………

When it was his turn Hamilton came out smiling and ran through a strong program…..everyone was wondering if he could still do (his famous back flip). He began circling the rink, skating backwards, going faster and faster. The song playing…..repeats over and over again: “I get knocked down, but I get up again! You’re never gonna keep me down!” ….Hamilton launched into the air in a souring backflip!….

That was when my dad commented: “That sound–those lyrics are good psychology. You can count on getting knocked down in life. And you can’t let fear paralyze you. Everyone’s going to take his or her lumps. The important thing is getting up again.  That’s a good life skill to learn.”

And from Scripture I learned this is not just good psychology; it’s good spirituality.  The Bible tells us: “Though the just fall seven times, they rise again, but the wicked stumble from only one mishap”(Proverbs 24:16)

St. Francis de Sales said: “Raise up your heart after a fall, sweetly and gently, humbling yourself before God in the knowledge of your misery, and do not be astonished at your weakness, since it is not surprising that weakness should be weak, infirmity infirm, and frailty frail”

In other words: we’re human, we’re weak, and failure happens.  We can count most assuredly on setbacks, things blowing up, our best laid plans going awry. but we can get up again.

As St. Basil the Great said: ‘There is still time for endurance, time for patience, time for healing, time for change. Have you slipped? Rise up. Have you sinned? Cease. Do not stand among sinners, but leap aside. For when you turn away and weep, then you will be saved.”

WE HAVE TODAY-although we may not have tomorrow, as St. Augustine reminds us: “God has promised forgiveness to your repentance, but he has not promised tomorrow to your procrastination.” BUT WE HAVE NOW. WE CAN CHANGE, START OVER, TRY AGAIN.

A great quote from Oliver Goldsmith captures it: “SUCCESS CONSISTS OF GETTING UP JUST ONE MORE TIME THAN YOU FALL.”

And real success, THE ONLY TRUE SUCCESS AND THE ONLY SUCCESS THAT MATTERS IN THE END, IS MAKING IT TO HEAVEN-becoming a saint. Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta told us: “SAINTS ARE ONLY SINNERS WHO KEEP TRYING.”