Genesis 35:18 “As she breathed her last--for she was dying--she named her son Ben-Oni. But his father named him Benjamin.”
Often times, we read the love story of Jacob and Rachel and get completely wrapped up in the romanticism of the story. We dote over the fact that Jacob worked many years to marry Rachel, but there’s a part of their story that is not so romantic… the end of their life together.
Genesis 35 brings us to the place where Rachel, after praying incessantly for another child, is giving birth to a son. God has answered her prayers, but unfortunately she is dying. Filled with heartbreak and sadness, with her last breath, Rachel names her son Ben-Oni. Ben-Oni meaning “Son of my Sorrow”.
The scripture gets very interesting right after that, because it goes on to say “But his father named him Benjamin”. When I first read this passage, I was so upset with Jacob. As a mother, I couldn’t imagine such disrespect and such disregard for a dying mother’s wish. It seemed so contradictory to his declarations of love leading up to that moment… until I discovered the wisdom behind Jacob’s decision.
When Rachel named her son, although it was with love, she was in a place of sadness and defeat. Her sorrow overcame her, and she projected that sadness onto her son for him to carry on. But Jacob knew better. He knew the importance of naming things, so he decided to step in. After all, God had already changed Jacob’s name to Israel. So Jacob renames his son Benjamin. Benjamin meaning “Son of my right hand”.
In that moment, Jacob shifted the course of his son’s life from always being reminded of sorrow, to being rightly positioned at the right side of his father. He gave him a name signifying importance, worth, love, royalty, and trust. Although Jacob knew that Rachel undoubtedly loved her son, he had the wisdom to look past their current situation, to their son’s future.
What Identity has been placed on you that your Heavenly Father wants to change, in order to reveal your true identity? Maybe you feel as though the streets raised you, so your identity is meant to reflect that. Maybe you are a product of divorce, so you feel that it is bound to happen to you. Maybe you’ve been hurt, violated, and you feel like there’s a mark that forever labels you a victim. Ask yourself… “What labels have been placed on me, that my Father wants to rename?”
Untruthful labels are harmful to our souls, even when it seems the label was given from a place of love. Rather than take on those labels, accept the identity that God gives in His word! He calls us His Children, Dearly Loved, Valuable, Capable, Secure, Victorious and Forgiven! Any label outside of what God calls us will lead to a false identity. Choose to release today any label that keeps you in a place of sorrow or defeat, no matter where it may have come from. Hold strong to your identity in Christ. God has, indeed, renamed your situation and changed your identity. So share with us, what has God named you?
Heavenly Father, I thank you for stepping in and changing all of my labels and calling me as your own. God, help me to walk in my identity as a child of the Most High God, removing any label that may speak against who you’ve called me to be. God I love you and I thank you! In Jesus’ name, Amen!
By: Min. April Carter