Your name is important. You use it to establish your identity. It’s one of the first details you offer when you meet someone new. “Hi, I’m _____.” It is considered rude not to introduce common acquaintances. “This is my friend _____.”
Your name defines you.
But what if someone else has “named” you and that name is false? Let’s call it a label. Perhaps a doctor labeled/diagnosed you as hyper or deficit. Maybe a teacher labeled/graded you as below average. Or a magazine photo labeled/judged you as fat. Maybe a parent labeled/rejected you as unwanted. Or worse.
Have you accepted a name, an identity, that God never intended for you?
Let’s take a look at the book of Daniel from the Old Testament to see what we can learn. Daniel was a prophet during the Babylonian exile. This was a time when the Israelites had walked away from God, so he allowed King Nebuchadnezzar and his army to besiege and take the Israelites captive. God’s plan, of course, was to return his people to him, but they had to want to come back.
Among this group of exiles, the king selected a few young men from the royal family to be taken into his service. This included Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. Verse 7 speaks to our naming dilemma.
The chief official gave them new names: to Daniel, the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abednego.
In this foreign land, in this place they did not belong, someone who did not know them gave them new names. False names. These names belonged to the place, not to them. If you continue reading in Daniel, you will see that he and his friends stayed true to themselves, not their new names or captors. God rewarded their trust and obedience in marvelous ways.
If you are currently laboring under a false name/label, if you find yourself in a circumstance that does not accurately define you (maybe a sexual relationship, maybe a false sense of failure or worthlessness), I can assure you that God has a different, true name for you. Ask God what he says about you. I know that his answer will include this: “I love you so much that I sent my most precious son to die a slow painful death to pay for your sins. Your name is my child and I will never abandon you.”
What is your name?