TENDING BROKEN PLANTS
Truth for wounded Souls
by Charles Irwin
God has a garden of fruitbearing plants - some with strong
stems, others with broken ones. These damaged plants can, with
care, blossom beautifully in season and yield an abundant
The plants with broken stems are like people who have been
wounded. They are the lonely, sick, poor, hungry, imprisoned, and
emotionally scarred. Why do they exist in God's garden? Perhaps
so that the strong will take note of them and nurture them to
Jabez, born in Israel of the tribe of Judah, may have been
such a wounded soul. About him we read "Now Jabez was more
honorable than his brothers, and his mother called his name
Jabez, saying, 'Because I bore him in pain"' (1 Chronicles 4:9).
Every human birth is accompanied by pain, but the narrative here
suggests that his birth was more painful than usual for both
mother and child. Jabez's mother may have had a difficult
delivery causing injury to the infant- an adverse congenital
condition. Or perhaps the child inherited a genetically based
impairment. We don't know whether Jabez's pain was an observable,
physical impairment or a mental disability.
Regardless, Jabez is described as being more honorable than
his brethren. His fervent plea to God was "Oh, that You would
bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would
be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not
cause pain!" (v.10).
As the boy grew, he suffered pain. He knew he was a burden
on his mother, who grieved for him. Perhaps in desperation, this
man sought God for blessing, expanded territory, deliverance from
evil, and release from causing pain.
As for territory, Jabez's inheritance may have been smaller
than his brothers'; thus his pleas that it be increased. This can
refer to an ancient kinship system in which one's place in the
genealogical record was a legal validation of the right to land,
livestock, rank, and, in some cases, marriage. No genealogy, no
In the context of Jabez's life, however, territory likely
meant something more: moving into a large place and shedding the
bondage that resulted from a troubled beginning. Jabez was
seeking God (Job 36:16; Psalm 18:19). The Bible speaks of giving
room to the afflicted, of deliverance from the chains of tragic
circumstances, and the consequent liberty of an "increase of
Jabez's story is one of God's grace. Jabez was weak and he
knew it. He called upon God in his time of need and cast himself
upon His grace. The man had done nothing to deserve God's
blessing, presence, and deliverance. Yet the Lord of love and
mercy harkened to the plea of this afflicted son and delivered
him from the bondage of the past.
Jabez's story also teaches us about increasing our own
territory for outreach. Each of us can ask the Father for
entrance into a life of greater service where the Spirit of
Christ empowers us to minister to the world's broken and wounded.
Thousands, perhaps millions, of Jabezes have been in our churches
since the first century and are with us today. When Paul the
evangelist bid farewell to the elders of Ephesus, he admonished
I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that
you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord
Jesus, that He said, "It is more blessed to give than to receive"
(Acts 20:35). Paul's exhortations to sup port the weak and give
to the poor remind us that poverty can take many forms: lack of
physical necessities, poverty of spirit, depression, rejection,
mental disability, addictions, loneliness, and physical
How important is our ministry to the weak and impoverished?
Our Savior answered the question in His discourse on the
separation of the sheep and goats (Matthew 25:31-46). He
commended the sheep for feeding the hungry, visiting the sick,
clothing the naked, and visiting the imprisoned. Forasmuch as
they did it to them, they did it to Him. The goats, however, were
cast into hell because they failed to minister to the afflicted
and, in turn, did not minister to Him.
Ministry to the poor and wounded will open doors to lead men
and women to Christ. The Lord made no conditions as to whether
those needing this support are saved or not. In fact, Jesus
preferred eating supper at a tax collector's house rather than
sharing a meal with the religious elites.
It behooves every Christian to minister to the Jabezes in
the body of Christ, as well as to those outside the church. The
sermons may be inspiring, the singing lively, the doctrine sound,
the attendance up, and the building substantial. But do we hear
weak ones in our midst cry out for help?
Healing the Broken
You can, by God's grace, help support a broken brother or
sister. You can, by the Spirit's power, assist the divine intent
to increase the spiritual and material territory of another and
reduce his pain. When you minister to the suffering, you are
ministering with the Master, and to Him.
A church I know assists struggling, at-risk students from a
nearby public school with homework. Parents voluntarily bring
their kids to the church two nights a week. Teachers and others
in the congregation help the students, who are not required to be
members of the church.
Are there people in your community who need your help? Are
there desperate saints in your congregations? If so, reach out to
the stranger, elderly, divorced, maligned, physically impaired,
and destitute. Pray that God will lead you to those who need your
Many of us are like Jabez in one way or another. Echoing his
prayer, we move into new territory of blessing through service to
others. By God's grace in Christ, his prayer is answered by this
New Testament invitation to everyone with pain:
"Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will
give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am
gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
For My yoke is easy and My burden is light" (Matthew 11:28-30).
Charles Irwin, a member residing in Quartz Hill, CA, is a
semi-retired school teacher. He once attended Spring Vale
Taken from "The Bible Advocate" September 2008, a publication of
The Church of God, Seventh Day, Denver, CO. USA
Being concerned about others, wanting to help others, giving of
your time, talents, physical goods, to others, is one way to help
yourself stay in the Christian race to the end. Loving and caring
for others is the ONE SIDE of the TWO GREAT COMMANDMENTS:
(1) Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, and life,
and the second is like unto it:
(2) LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF!