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  • Writer's pictureBarbara Byers


Ephraim, the second son of Joseph, grieved a long time when the men of Gath killed two of his sons who were rustling cattle from the Philistines. In his pain Ephraim named his newborn son Beriah which means “calamity” or “misfortune.” (1 Chron. 7:23) Can you imagine a lifetime of carrying that name? This is especially sad because Ephraim had himself been well-named by his father. His name means “fruitful,” and his tribe became very fruitful. Ephraim was so overcome by the situation and his own continuing grief that he transferred that to his own son and misnamed him.

We see another example when Rachel was in labor and with her dying breath named her second son Ben Oni which means “son of my sorrow.” But her husband Jacob did not let that name stand and named his son Benjamin instead which means “son of my right hand.” (Gen. 35:18) Not long before, Jacob had encountered God in an all-night struggle. (Gen. 32:28) Jacob himself had known the pain of being named “supplanter” or “deceiver” but in that struggle he held on and would not let go until he had received a blessing. There, God changed his name to Israel, meaning “he who strives with God.”

From their own pain others may have mis-named us, thus mis-shaping us over time. We often take that in as a part of our identity, agreeing with it and developing a voice within of our own inner critic…shaming, fearing, feeling less than or not enough and faltering in self-acceptance. But as we come to the Lord with the bruise and the false, mis-named identity, He will heal that wound, give us our true name and identity and begin to reshape us into His original intent. What hope! He makes all things new (Rev. 21:5). We aren’t held immoveable in someone else’s definition of us; we can walk away from that and find our true identity in Christ for we are a new creation in Him (2 Cor. 5:17). We bring the old name to the Cross in exchange for the new name, the new word that God gives us to identify who we really are. Then we learn to walk in a new way, taking that name in so that we are reshaped to reflect Him. We hear and rejoice in the true name our Father gives because His voice most truly names us.

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