Suffering; June 6, 2021


Job 16:19-21 Even now my witness is in heaven;
my advocate is on high.
My intercessor is my friend
as my eyes pour out tears to God;
on behalf of a man he pleads with God
as a man pleads for his friend.

Comparing the English and the Japanese there are obviously some difficulties in translating this passage, but any way you cut it, there is some serious theology here. The NIV says, “My intercessor is my friend,” saying what we would like this passage to say, but the Japanese goes with what the NIV gives as a footnote, “My friends treat me with scorn,” which certainly reflects Job’s experience. Likewise, the Japanese renders “he pleads with God” as a request: “may he intercede with God.” Even with all of that, however, this passage presents the idea of an intercessor in heaven, and that is something we tend to think of as a New Testament concept. Both Paul (Romans 8:34) and the writer to the Hebrews (Hebrews 7:23) speak of Jesus as our heavenly Intercessor, but here, hundreds of years, at least, before Jesus was born, Job is bringing up the concept. Job thinks that it is God personally who is bringing all his suffering onto him, but even so he doesn’t abandon his conviction that God is ultimately just. In our modern luxury we have developed an “easy street” theology, teaching and preaching that since God is both good and omnipotent, everything should be sweetness and light. It’s not that God isn’t good or that He isn’t omnipotent, but that flies in the face of human experience throughout history. Jesus Himself told us clearly, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) We live in a fallen world that has lots of suffering in it. We aren’t to be all doom and gloom, expecting suffering at every turn, but we aren’t to be surprised by it either. There are many, many things we don’t know or understand, so we need to anchor our hearts in the awareness and conviction that Jesus is on our side, and in Him, we win!

I was recently impressed to read that Andrew Brunson, the missionary who was freed from a Turkish prison by Donald Trump, has said that modern Charismatic theology has left believers unprepared for the persecution that the Bible is clear is coming, and that he thinks is imminent. I think he has a real point. I don’t feel like I personally have suffered very much, but my wife has a list of medical conditions, with Parkinson’s Disease currently being prominent, that have made her entirely too familiar with pain, both physical and emotional. By extension, that is my suffering as well, since over 52 years of marriage we are indeed one. I don’t blame God, but I do know that nothing can happen without His permission. At the same time I also know that “In all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28) I have no question that Cathy and I both fit into that category, so I am also convinced of the truth of something else Paul wrote: “Our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” (2 Corinthians 4:17) I am to look forward to unspeakable glory, but not to be surprised at any bumps along the way, no matter how severe.

Father, thank You for this strong reminder. Thank you for getting us through the long, but very productive, day yesterday. Thank You for Your plans for today, and for the message You’ve given me to share. I pray that I would do so by Your Spirit, to produce Your desired results in all who hear, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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