This week’s Pastor to Person was written by Pastor Caleb Beller.
“As she breathed her last–for she was dying–she named her son Ben-Oni. But his father named him Benjamin.” (Gen 35:18)
What a gut-wrenching moment for Jacob. The love of his life dies while giving birth to their second son. Jacob had just returned to the place of God’s promise in his life. There the Lord appeared to Jacob and confirmed the blessing on his life.
As Rachel nears her last breath, she names her son Ben-Oni (son of my pain). It’s hard to fathom the mix of joy and sorrow in this crossroads of life and death. Names were a funny thing in Israel. Your name identified you and your family, but it was also a reflection of your character. Jacob knew how powerful a name could be. In verse 10 God changes his name from Jacob (heel catcher) to Israel (governed by God).
In a moment of fatherly wisdom and grace Jacob overrides the proclamation of his dying bride. We too can become defined by the worst moments in our lives. So often these things happen outside of our control, but they can define us and confine us to a perspective that we are somehow the source of everyone’s pain. His father named him Benjamin (son of my right hand). No matter what label the world or circumstances have put on you, the power of the Gospel allows us to be defined not by tragedy, but by Jesus’ triumph. The Gospel allows us to be “Benjamin” son of God’s right hand because of Jesus. Have you accepted your new name? Let His love define you and me this week.