The Bible references a man by the name of Jabez, whose name literally meant “born in pain”. He was born into and through pain. He was “destined” to live a life a pain.
A name meant a lot in those days. They weren’t given lightly. They were given to tell a story or proclaim a future. They were so important that there are numerous accounts of individuals whose names were changed, symbolically changing their destiny. Jacob became Israel, Saul became Paul, Abram to Abraham, Simon to Peter, Sarai to Sarah, Joseph to Barnabus, Benoni to Benjamin. Names were significant.
Jabez would have known that his name held a lot of weight in the direction for his life. The expectations for his life were set low. People’s expectations for us are not usually very high either.
When we were younger and we left the house to go out for the night, we were usually told, “be safe…don’t get into trouble”. We rarely hear, “Have the best night ever” or “Let me know how many people you inspire tonight”. People around us are usually satisfied with us making it through…getting by and being safe. They live in the Land of Okay and expect us to live there as well, quietly and without too much fuss.
With the New Year upon us, we must remember, there’s no magic in a new year. We must create something. We must actively pursue greatness. The question is, once we’ve realized our pain, our mediocre life in the Land of Okay, we must ask, “NOW WHAT?”
Jabez asks God to place His hand upon him. He understood God’s willingness to GUIDE, GUARD and GOVERN. He understood that merely wanting a better life was not enough. He wanted support. He wanted support from the God he had heard about. The God that blessed Abraham and the God that delivered Moses and the people of Israel. He wanted help from that same God. He asked God to enlarge his influence, his resources, the expectations on his life…and it says, God did.
Our expectations for our own life need a paradigm shift. When we understand that we are not in this alone, we carry a certain weight on us in life. When I walk into a big meeting with executives and producers, I don’t walk in as the little brown kid who got stared at by every light-skinned person in my neighborhood growing up. I walk in knowing something. I walk in knowing that I have access to a God who changed my destiny, who changed the expectation for my life.
Hosea wrote that people are destroyed due to lack of knowledge. We must seek EDUCATION, INFORMATION and INSIGHT. But, it’s not enough to just know something, you must do something about it. You must actively pursue greatness. We must get our hustle on. And when we fail…get up and keep moving forward. The strength is not being perfect, the strength is in failing forward. When life hits you, getting back up is where you learn greatness. David said, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil. He knew he wasn’t alone. David failed, but got back up and continued in his greatness.
Whether you’ve been in prison, divorced, had tremendous loss, made poor choices, or have simply been named “pain”, it’s up to you to do something about it. But you don’t have to do it alone. The same God that delivered Daniel from the lion’s den and raised Lazarus from the dead is there to guide you, guard you, and govern you to greatness.
When we realize our greatness and move forward in it, we will not only have a full life, but now we have become a hope for those around us in the Land of Okay. Our greatness is not just for us to selfishly enjoy. Our greatness is to give life to those around us. To live in such a way that provokes others to greatness.
Though we live in the Land of Okay, we are not required to live by its mediocre ways. We don’t have to be merely okay, we don’t have to live an almost life. We can live an utmost life. We can be more than okay. We can live a life of greatness.
This year, I challenge you to change your expectation. Change your outlook and get up and actively pursue greatness!