In college, I spent a school year studying the book of Job and adapting it for the stage with a group of friends. The words of this book became so much a part of us. We talked about our own struggles, the suffering we’d witnessed in our young lives, and questioned what God’s response really is.
So many words from this book on my hard drive, but of all of them, this verse had the biggest impact on my adult life.
I’ve always had a very strong sense of and need for justice. This verse challenged me again and again to trust God to vindicate me. I’ve learned to take responsibility for my own offense, my own sense of entitlement, my own spirit of victimization.
And after 20 years, these words are challenging me in a new and unexpected way.
Recently I was struggling to make peace with being falsely accused. I’d moved through the process of giving God my sadness and forgiving the people involved. But something still felt off. There was this sense of injustice that I couldn’t shake.
I reminded myself about the advocate I have in heaven. But this time, God seemed to be asking me a question I’d never considered.
“Who is your advocate in heaven?” I responded,
“It’s you, obviously.”
“What do you mean?”
“Who else is seated in heaven?” That’s when I remembered this verse:
“Oh. Uh, wow.”
It had never occurred to me that, in some cases, I might be my advocate in heaven.
Before, I thought advocating for myself showed a lack of trust in God. And that position had some Biblical basis. There are multiple references to Jesus being silent before his accusers. And instructions about not preparing a defense if we appear in court. For decades, I took those examples to mean I should advocate for other people, but not for myself.
And that was a double standard. Because there are dozens of scriptures about doing justice on behalf of all kinds of people in all kinds of situations, and I take those seriously. I don’t wait for God to advocate for them. I recognize the authority he’s given me to live justly.
I advocate for other members of God’s family as an extension of God’s advocacy, not in opposition to it. I’m made in his image, and called to bear his image in the world. So why would I not advocate for myself as a child of God?
Here’s my new thinking on this: my definition of advocacy was too narrow. All the Biblical examples I used to define advocating for myself deal with very specific legal situations. Now God is challenging me to step up and advocate for myself in other ways.
It can be as subtle as challenging my own self-talk, as unglamorous as basic self-care. It can be as inexpensive as buying a pair of shoes or as costly as hiring a lawyer to help me make my case.
When I’m abiding in Him, I can speak out as an extension of God’s advocacy, not in opposition to it. As with so many things, it’s not just about following a rule. It’s about obeying in a way that remains true to who God is.
God is freedom, and when we abide in him, we’re an extension of his freedom.
He is justice, and we extend his justice.
God is hope and we’re an extension of his hope.
What aspect of who God is do you extend into the world?