"As she breathed her last—for she was dying—she named her son Ben-Oni [son of my trouble]. BUT his father named him Benjamin [son of my right hand]."
Growing up I felt pretty sure I knew who I was. My mentally ill father told me constantly how he saw me. He had a vicious side to him and the verbal abuse was unrelenting and only one of the ways in which he tormented us. If we did anything he didn’t like (which was often) we were just like our mother whom he hated. If we did something he liked, we were just like him. It was confusing and painful. A child will internalize it and just like their name, it becomes who they are. I grew up thinking I was less than and unworthy, a sentiment that followed me well into adulthood.
However, God stepped into my path and said “but”.
Rachel may have called Ben a curse and blamed her innocent child for her own death, but Jacob stepped in and changed the narrative. I love that he had experienced his own moment of renaming by God from Jacob to Israel in the prior verses. So, identity was not lost on him. He probably took that small bundle of kicking joy, kissed his tiny head and said “no”, he was the “son of his right hand”. The right hand has lots of significance in Jewish culture and in biblical references. It signifies blessing, inheritance, strength and favor. In essence Jacob, or rather Israel, had a moment of clarity and gave Ben what he needed, a new name, a new identity. Not a curse, but a blessing.
It’s the same with us.
….And you will be called by a new name Which the mouth of the LORD will designate.
O my friends, we are not accidents, we are not unredeemable and we are not set in our broken ways. It’s a subtle lie that the enemy wants us to believe to keep us from what God wants to do in our lives.
God longs to rename us into his identity. He wants us to stop telling ourselves what the world and even our own parents pronounce over us and change it to what he says about us. I am no longer the daughter of a monster, but the daughter of the king. He remade me and said I was to be at his right hand. Isn’t that awesome?
“God, please help me see that my identity is not what others tell me it is, I’m not broken, unusable and cursed, but I am made whole in you, I am a vessel that you will use and you bless me. Help me to see I am your child and no one else’s. Amen”.
Go, be Benjamin!