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The Old Testament of the Bible contains many mysterious passages. In 1 Chronicles 4:9-10, we find a short prayer uttered by an obscure man:

"Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother named him 'Jabez' saying, 'Because I bore him with pain.' Now, Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, 'Oh, Lord, bless me indeed and expand my territory. Keep Your hand on me, and keep evil from me, that I may not cause pain!' And God granted him what he requested."

Nothing is known about the man who voiced this heartfelt cry to God. He appears to be a man whose family was erased from Israel's history. But if the man and his family's memories were erased, why is he mentioned at all? And why does his prayer appear in a listing of the members of the tribe of Judah?

In "Jabez: Conceived in Pain, Delivered in Victory" we meet the man behind the prayer. We discover why his family could not be mentioned in the chronicles of the tribes. We learn why he was more honorable than his brothers.

More importantly, we find a man with whom many of us can identify. He is a man with a pitiful past and no hope for a future. He is a man who struggles to find meaning and significance in life. He is a man who is desperate to be accepted by his fellow man.

But most of all, he is a man who craves a relationship with God.

In the end, Jabez turns out to be more than an obscure man in a forgotten time. Instead, he is found to be a man whose prayer had a significant impact on the history of Israel. Though the story takes places over 3,000 years ago, its impact still affects us today.

And it all started with the story of a life, told to one small boy.

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  • We meet Jabez, a man in his nineties, who has traveled through the deserts of Judah to tell the story of his life to his great-grandson. Why is Jabez's lineage missing from the Bible, though his prayer is mentioned? How can an impotent man father a child? Why did his mother call him "Jabez", which is the Hebrew word for "pain"? (Prologue, Chapters 1 - 2)

  • We learn how the circumstances of his birth caused his family to reject Jabez. Who stops Jabez's father from killing the boy? What is the significance of the ram's horn? How will God respond to the challenge Jabez lays out? (Chapters 3 - 4)

  • God accepts the challenge. Jabez encounters a solitary traveler in desperate need of a friend. How did the Levite know about Jabez's feelings for Timnah? How could a man without any hope for a future raise the bride-price for his beloved? (Chapters 5 - 6)

  • The first and second days of the wedding feast. Jabez learns about Timnah's past. What kind of a man will Jabez be while his bride is suffering? (Chapters 7 - 8)

  • The third and fourth days of the wedding feast. Jabez and Timnah exchange words, but why are the wedding guests pleased? (Chapters 9 - 10)

  • The fifth, sixth, and seventh days of the wedding feast. Ahijah shares a secret with Jabez, and Gazez looks like he's hiding something. Who does Jabez find behind the veil? (Chapter 11)

  • Jabez and Timnah spend a pleasant afternoon together, but their joy is marred by a hideous discovery. Who has violated the possession of Ahijah? What is the punishment for such a grievous affront to God? (Chapters 12-14)

  • The guilty one is judged. Dodo recites what he has learned so far. The birth of Elatarah and Elishua. Jabez feels alone; how does God show Jabez his prayer has been heard? (Chapters 15-17)

  • The Philistines look upon Israel as an evil man looks on a beautiful, young girl. The Levites of Judah search for a man whom God will use to stand against the Philistines. Jabez seeks help from his brother, Hananeel. Why was Hananeel's wife angry with her husband? How does Jabez respond to the young Levite's questions? (Chapters 18-20)

  • The moment of blessing is interrupted. Jabez's nephew and nieces escape certain death. Hananeel's neighbor shares Hananeel's secret. What did Eran do to make Jabez shudder? What finally convinces Jabez he must attend the Council of War? How does Jabez win Ha-gadol's favor? (Chapters 21-23)

  • Jabez, Ha-gadol, and one of the Levites travel to Gibeon to meet with representatives from the tribes of Benjamin, Dan, and Ephraim. Ha-gadol almost starts a war. On the way back to Bethlehem, they are refused entrance to the city of Jebus. That evening, they meet two travelers who bear bad news. How come Jabez is not afraid of the travelers? Why is Mishael so concerned about the water shaft? (Chapters 24 & 25)

  • Jabez and his men intercept the Philistine merchants, preventing them from entering the land of Judah. The merchants respond to the blockade with a gesture of friendship. When they receive Jabez's answer, the Philistines try to break the blockade. What do the merchants offer Jabez and why does he refuse their gesture? What are Jabez's warriors going to do with their two bowstrings? (Chapters 26 & 27)

  • The Accuser attacks Jabez in the still of the night. Jabez tries to ward off the Accuser's arrows, but his heart is pierced with doubt. Reinforcements arrive, bringing news from home. Jonab brings Jabez's son and nephew, Elatarah and Eran, for a visit. Jonab also carries with him a message from Timnah. Jabez questions Eran about the night Hananeel died in the fire. How does Jabez fight against the Accuser? How does Elatarah respond to the taunting warrior? What does Eran say that puts Jabez at ease? (Chapters 28-30)

  • Jabez, Ha-Gadol, and several other men scout the Philistine city of Gath. Plans are made to meet the Philistines in the Valley of Elah. The men seek shelter from a storm in a cave. Jabez receives the plan of battle from an unexpected source. How will the army of Judah be able to fight the Philistines if they have been weakened by an enemy they cannot see? (Chapters 31 - 33)

  • The army of Judah meets the Philistines in the Valley of Elah. Jabez finds that the Commander of the Army of God is true to his word. The Philistines find their gods are not as strong as they believed them to be. How did Jabez's men -- sick and weak as they were -- conduct themselves in the battle? Why are the Philistine women so scared? (Chapters 34 & 35)

  • The men celebrate the victory over the Philistines. Against his better judgment, Jabez accepts refugees from Gath into the camp. After the feast, Jabez retreats to a place of solitude for a time of reflection, but he is interrupted. How does Jabez respond to the interruption? How does he conduct himself? Does he give in to the temptation? (Chapters 36 & 37)

  • News of the victory reaches the ears of Israel. Jabez is summoned to meet with the Levites to give a first-hand account of the battle. Sh'muel arrives to escort Jabez to the town where the Levites are waiting. The leader of the Levites asks Jabez about the women who were seen in the midst of the warriors. How much does Sh'muel see? Why does Jabez get so angry at the Levite's questions? (Chapters 38 & 39)

  • Jabez returns to his village on his way back to the encampment outside of Gath. He is pleased to see Matthan and the men of the village have strengthened the walls, but is dismayed to find the gates have not yet been hung. At dinner that night, Elishua sings a song she has written, a song of God's deliverance. Jabez and Timnah share a bittersweet moment together. Is Jabez able to conceal his guilt from Timnah or does she see into his soul? How long will it take Jabez to mend the cloak? (Chapters 40 & 41)

  • Jabez spends the morning with his wife, daughter, and nieces before leaving his village. He starts the process of healing the pain he has caused Timnah, and allows her to search out his soul. Jabez reviews his village's defensive plans before heading back to the encampment outside of Gath. Matthan expresses his concern about the village's ability to withstand an attack. What does Jabez say that shows Timnah he is already making atonement for his sin? Will Elatarah need his dagger while standing guard? (Chapters 42 & 43)

  • Episode 20 Jabez receives news that a tragedy has befallen his village. He returns to the village with Ha-gadol and several other men to investigate. He discovers that both Elishua and Eran are missing. In what condition is the village? Where have the villagers gone? Where does Jabez find the rest of his family? (Chapter 44)

  • Jabez is heartbroken at his loss, and cries out in his anguish, "Why? Why? Why?" The cry is echoed from the face of the rocks and pierces his soul with its sound. The survivors from the massacre are escorted back to the village. The remnants of the village prepare the bodies of their loved ones for burial. Who presides over the burials? Who stands in for the children who have lost both father and mother? Who helps Jabez prepare the bodies of his family? (Chapters 45 & 46)

  • Jabez discovers he cannot take his place on the battlefield to avenge the death of his family. He is forced to remain and rebuild his village. Jabez is visited by an old enemy, but is not able to discern the enemy's presence. His guilt and shame gnaw at him, causing him to sink into depression. How come Jabez cannot sense the Accuser's presence? What does the Accuser say that forces Jabez into the pit of despair? Why does Sh'muel want to spend time with Jabez? (Chapters 47 - 49)

  • Sh'muel gives Jabez a message from an old friend. Jabez accepts the message and acts upon it, leading to his forgiveness. When Jabez's eyes are opened, he sees how much he has missed since the day of destruction. He is restored to his family and receives an honor from Eran. Jabez teaches Eran and Elishua the true meaning of sacrificial giving. What is the message that opens Jabez's eyes? Who is it from? Why is Jabez willing to sacrifice the last lamb from his flock? (Chapters 50 - 52)

  • Eran solves the mystery behind the barrenness of Jabez's flock. Jabez remembers the pain of not having a future and is burdened by a desire to bless Eran with a flock of his own. He is also burdened by Elishua's deepening silence. Jabez is approached by Jeruel -- a man in the village -- who asks Jabez a question he had never considered. What does Eran see in the flock that Jabez could not? Why has Elishua fallen silent? What question does Jeruel ask that Jabez must consider? (Chapters 53 - 55)

  • For the first time in several years, the village is visited by a caravan of merchants. The villagers are excited and take the caravan's presence as a sign their village is no longer despised and wretched. Tiras, the patriarch of the merchant clan, establishes a friendship with Jabez. Elishua holds a priceless necklace in her hands, but cannot afford to trade for it. Tiras and Jabez share stories of someone they both know. Why does one of the caravan members seem familiar to Jabez? What can three honeycakes buy? (Chapters 56 & 57)

  • The caravan leaves the village and heads south to meet with an Egyptian caravan. Mishael and another rider travel on unladen camels to find the caravan, leaving the village at a fast pace. The village buzzes with gossip about Jeruel and Elishua, but Jabez is adamant about waiting until after the Sabbath to tell Jeruel his answer. Just before the Sabbath starts, the caravan returns with bad news. Tiras accuses someone in the village of stealing from him. (Chapters 58 - 60)

  • Tiras confronts the person who stole from his family. Jabez offers to take the punishment in the place of the one accused. Mishael reveals the true reason behind the missing treasure. Jabez's anger and shame burn within him at the charges leveled against him. How does Mishael react when he hears of the theft? What answer does Jabez give Jeruel regarding the bride-price for Elishua? (Chapters 61 - 63)

  • The village celebrates the betrothal of Elishua to Mishael. Tiras solidifies his trading partnerships by inviting other caravans to the wedding feast. The presence of the caravans attract unwanted attention to the village. Jabez is confronted by someone who knows about his sin with the woman from Gath. How does Elishua know when Mishael will be near? How does Jabez recognize the man at the well? Who prevents Jabez from acting on his desire for revenge? (Chapters 64 & 65)

  • The caravan tries to take action against Kelb-bar-Berakh. Tiras awakens Jabez that night, looking for Mishael. Jabez finds Eran missing, as well. What does the Sabbath bring to the village? Who gives a precious gift to Jabez? Was Jabez's pledge to the Philistine broken? (Chapters 66 - 68)

  • Tiras hosts a feast to celebrate the return of Elishua, Mishael, and Eran. Mishael tells the caravan leaders how the Philistine was defeated. Eran explains why he did not break his father's pledge and bears testimony to Jabez's honor. Mishael and Elishua are joined together in marriage. To whom does Eran give the credit for tracking down the Philistine and Elishua? To what does Mishael give the credit for defeating Kelb-bar-Berakh? (Chapters 69 & 70)

  • Jabez finishes his story and gives each of his great-grandchildren his blessing before he departs from them for the last time. He saves his richest blessing for his youngest great-grandson. In the Epilogue, the historical significance of Jabez's life -- and his prayer -- are revealed. How much influence did the story of Jabez's life and his prayer have over his beloved Dodo? (Chapter 71 & Epilogue)

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