I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving full of rest and joy and mashed potatoes (my personal fav). I further hope that it was not dramatic or divisive or stress-inducing. Of course, this is the risk when you get together with people who, though they might carry the same blood or last name or hometown, have different views on life and the world and which teams are worth our cheers. Family gatherings are like that, or at least they sometimes can be. 

Many of you will know what I am talking about, and you spent a fair amount of last week with slight perspiration on your brow just waiting for your one uncle or parent or sibling who just took their first philosophy class to bring up some political or cultural topic with the sole intention of raising blood pressure and stirring the metaphorical pot (not even for a good soup or anything actually worthwhile). 

It is in those moments that you need some kind of miracle – something to distract us all or change the topic. And unless you’ve got Matthew McConaughey around to turn up the Adele and distract the table with memories of lost love (see SNL’s 2015 skit “A Thanksgiving Miracle” – trust me, it’s worth your time), then what you really need at that moment is a good mediator. You know, someone to stand in the gap between the raised opposing voices and help both sides to hear each other and, at the least, come to an understanding. Why is a mediator a helpful thing, especially in times like that? Because in those heated moments, we often just need to know there is someone who sees us. Like a scared dog backed into a corner, we need to know we aren’t alone.

Of course, we kind of need to know that all the time. Part of our human condition is the need to know we aren’t on an island and that there is, in fact, someone who sees us and isn’t going to leave us alone to face whatever music is coming our way. Job knew this better than most. Having lost everything at the hands of a perplexing wager, some “friends” came to help him grieve. They were, indeed, helpful – that is, until they started talking. Instead of helping him bear the burden of grief and loss, they added to it by making sure Job knew that this was the plight of all men and he did have it coming.

In Job 16, we read Job’s response to his buddies and it is one of frustration and anguish. “You are miserable comforters, all of you!” he says. Ouch. Something tells me that they didn’t care to be comforters, though. They cared to be correct. Job continues and laments his seemingly groundless pain and the comfort he is receiving from his friends. With every word, it becomes more and more clear that they are very much not in his corner. So the chapter ends with a cry from Job that even though his friends here on earth were not working on his behalf, there was, hopefully, a different reality in heaven:

“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

Job felt alone. Understatement of the century. But what he hoped was true was indeed true. I doubt he was thinking about any kind of messiah at that moment, but purposefully or not, he turned on the spotlight for us to see our heavenly reality here in 2023. John puts it best:

“My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” 

1 John 2:1-2

We aren’t alone, just like Job wasn’t alone. Our mediator stands at the right hand of the Father and intercedes on our behalf. How? Through his perfect, spotless righteousness. I do not know how these words find you, but I hope this is an encouragement. You are not alone in your corner. In your suffering, your strained relationships, your anxiety, your way-too-many-big-decisions-to-make, your mundane, your joy – you are not alone. The one who knows you best and loves you most, and is powerful enough to actually make a difference is in your corner and on your team. What a friend! Happy Thanksgiving.

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