"As she breathed her last - for she was dying - she named her son Ben Oni. But his father named him Benjamin" (Genesis 35:18).
Once while perusing the traffic jam of the information super highway, I ramped off an exit that led me to a collection of odd names. Curiously, I explored the site that boasted many names that reminded me of how thankful I am to my parents for being rather simple and choosing not to make a statement to the world with my name. The one name that struck me in such a way, reminding me of how cruel I could be in my younger days, was a name of a woman born in 1899 in Balby, South Yorks. First name Iva. Last name...Longbottom.
When my wife and I discovered we were pregnant with each of our children, we started to pray. One of our prayers was that we would come up with just the right name. As a matter of principle for us, we named each child upon finding out the gender. What is wildly intriguing, is that we had only one name, gender-specific, for each child before it was revealed that they were boy or girl. Upon finding out, the name was immediately given and used countless times before we first beheld the awesomeness of God in the beauty of His creation of our precious child. Though we had never seen them, it was as though we had known them forever. They had identity. They had a name.
When Rachel was in the process of giving birth, she soon realized that each breath she took was a final countdown to her very last. Hers was a life filled with great dreams of loving her husband and blessing him with an army of sons. Her sister gave him several as did her servants. She was able only to give him one, Joseph. As she prepared to give birth one final time, she gave her son a name that emulated the pain and sorrow that defined her in her final moments. She gave him the name Ben Oni, which meant "son of my sorrows." His name was her last cry for what was and what never would be. It would be the name that identified his very being.
His father redeemed his name. He would not be identified by the sorrows of what would never be. His father would give him a name that would be more in line with the destiny he had been given by God. He was to be called Benjamin. He was not the "son my sorrows." Rather, he was "son of my right hand." The "right hand" is a distinction of honor, strength, and favor. He would be seen as one who obtained a high value, seen to be vulnerable, and to be protected at all costs. He would be a man to be trusted, valued, and a man of great strength. He would be prized and protected by his father and his brothers.
In a great quote by the theatrical work of genius, Tyler Perry, in the character of Madea, "You will be called many things in your life. It doesn't matter what folks call you. It only matters what you answer to." Your past and your mistakes will work around the clock in an effort to altar the name and purpose that has been given to you by God. Don't acknowledge it. Refuse it. Deny it and defy it. Don't answer to the discouragement. Don't answer to the past. Don't answer to the fear, the anxiety, or the depression. That's not your name. Your name is Chosen. Your name is Forgiven. Your name is Loved. Your name is Purposed by God. He is your Father, and He knows your name. He has redeemed you with a name that fits the destiny you have been given. You have been created in His image and named for His purpose.