Give It A New Name

by Nicki Koziarz March 22, 2018
“And as her soul was departing (for she was dying), she called his name Ben-oni; but his father called him Benjamin.” Genesis 35:18 (ESV)
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What will it take for you at the end of your life to be able to say, “It is well with my soul”?

A few months ago, I walked through one of the hardest seasons of my life. My mom was diagnosed with a brain tumor and given just six months to live.

It was the most unexpected and painful season I’ve ever experienced.

We tried to make the best of things. We still celebrated Mother’s Day, an anniversary and a few birthdays, all while knowing they were our last celebrations with Mom. Which made them all the more bittersweet. We had dance parties in her hospice room, we laughed, we cried, we watched movies together, and we tried to live while she was dying.

We were so grateful for the time we had but incredibly sorrowful for the time we felt had been taken from her.

Then, on a Friday morning very early, my mom slipped into eternity. And I truly wondered what it would take for me to be able to say, “It is well with my soul,” at the end of my life.

In our key verse today, we’re witnesses to the ending of a story. A comparison-filled journey of two sisters, Rachel and Leah, ended in a very sad, sorrowful place: “And as her soul was departing (for she was dying), she called his name Ben-oni; but his father called him Benjamin” (Genesis 35:18).

An unexpected death.

Rachel’s life ends while giving birth to a son. And with her last words she gave her son the name “Ben-oni,” which means “son of my sorrow.” Things were not well with her soul. And her name choice reveals the depth of hurt and pain within her.

But her husband, Jacob (whose own name eventually became Israel), decided to give their son a new name: Benjamin. Which meant “son of my right hand, a place of high favor.” His son would not live his life with a name representing sorrow.

For sure, this season with my mom was filled with grief. Every day for six months I said goodbye to her a little more. But at the end of her life, I wrestled with the wellness of my soul. It wasn’t fair my mom suffered as she did. It wasn’t fair that at the age of just 37, I no longer had a mom here on earth, and my girls no longer had their Mimi. And I couldn’t understand why God didn’t heal her as so many prayed He would.

But even in that unwell place of my soul, I knew it was time for me to give this season a new name. Otherwise, things would never shift inside me.

I decided it was a privilege to walk day by day with my mom as she crossed into eternity. And now, as I look back and rename that situation, it was a gift, yes, but still wrapped in sorrow.

I don’t know why God allows things to happen the way they do. I’m sure Jacob struggled with this, too — wondering as his beloved wife slipped into eternity and he held that baby boy.

At some point, we’ll all find ourselves wading through grief. But I know there’s a God who gives us a love that redefines our sorrowful seasons.

His Son Jesus is the best example of how God can take pain and rename it something powerful. Like the meaning of Benjamin’s new name, Jesus, after a sorrowful season, now sits at the right hand of His Father. (Ephesians 1:20-23)

His sorrow was a sacrifice on the cross, which changed everything for us. And because of Jesus, we can walk through hard places and still say, “It is well with my soul.”

It doesn’t mean we’ll do it perfectly, smoothly or even with a smile on our faces. But it means we trust God so much we believe He can rename even the hardest of situations and turn them into something of eternal value.

I still have days where I think of something I need to tell my mom, or see something that reminds me of her, and grief washes over me again. But I know I’ve trusted God with this pain, and He’ll continue to write a new story through my grief.

Lord, thank You that in Your eyes, every hard situation has the potential to have a new name. Help us see things through Your perspective. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.


Psalm 34:18, “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” (ESV)


She is everywhere. The "perfect" girl who leaves us feeling insignificant, insecure, and, let’s be real, a little frustrated with our own circumstances. The thoughts you have about her — the ones you aren’t proud of — we have them too. That’s why we chose Why Her?: 6 Truths We Need to Hear When Measuring Up Leaves Us Falling Behind by Nicki Koziarz as our next free Online Bible Study. It's time we start thriving in our own skin again, friend. Find out more.


Enter to WIN a copy of Why Her? by Nicki Koziarz. In celebration of this new book, B&H Publishing Group will give away 5 copies! Enter to win by leaving a comment here. {We'll randomly select 5 winners and email notifications to each one by Monday, March 26, 2018.}


Is there a season in your life God has given you the strength to rename? We’d love to hear about it in the comments today. But also, consider sharing your story with just one other person who’s going through a season of sorrow.

© 2018 by Nicki Koziarz. All rights reserved.

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