His peaceful life was broken by a violent storm that swept away all that he loved and valued. Job had no idea that he was at the centre of a satanic challenge to God’s honour, and of the far-reaching consequences of his journey through the storm.
In pain and grief, confused why great blessing had been overtaken by great trouble, Job says:
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 one pleads for a friend. (Job 16:19-21)
We’ll come back to Job, but first a quick visit to Romans 8. We see a picture of heaven “for us” and, in the brilliant centre, the scene of the Spirit and the Son praying for us (26-39).
But brushed into the same picture are signs of trouble, hardship, persecution, danger, privation, demonic opposition and death. How can these storm clouds be in a picture of heaven ‘for us’?
As much as we would welcome it, the Lord doesn’t promise to whisk us around life’s troubles. But he does promise he is “for us” 24/7, praying for us perfectly. Storms happen, and if his perfect prayer shield allows the turbulence through, it’s because he is seeing an outcome that will be more blessed because of the storm than without it.
Now back to Job.
Side note: Job’s words (16:19-21) allow for various interpretations. I’m using the NIV here as the wording mirrors a beautiful new covenant truth about Christ.
Job had a revelation of one in heaven who was his witness, advocate, intercessor and friend. In his severest life-storm he grasped the truth of one who was perfectly representing him in heaven’s courts (demolishing accusations and defending his rights under Mercy) and perfectly mediating the blessings of covenant relationship on his behalf. With that level of heaven ‘for him’, although the journey was painful, the outcome was going to be good. The epilogue confirms it: a massive defeat for Satan and extravagant blessing for Job.
For us, the truth of Christ as Witness-Advocate-Intercessor-Friend has even larger, new covenant dimensions. The journey through storm is often painful and confusing, but the level of heavenly ‘for us’ assures an outcome with more gain than loss (‘tho not always as measurable as Job’s).
Whatever our circumstance (stormy or not), the beauty of Christ’s glorious life includes him always praying perfectly for us.* The prayer scene is impossible to visualize: Christ praying constantly and perfectly for billions of individuals by name. His intercessory life ‘for us’ is a prayer realm beyond our comprehension. We can’t understand it, but can (must) grasp it [see ‘Power to GRASP’].
Each time we pray we do so in the name of the One who is, at that very moment, praying perfectly for us. It’s a truth to be grasped if we are to REST in it. And when we learn to rest in our own storms we are better able to pray for individuals, communities and nations being shaken by theirs.
*Rom 8:34, Heb 7:25, 9:24