God was with him? him?

Thoughts which drag me to Jesus, and to His cross!

20 God was with the boy as he grew up. Ishmael lived in the desert and became an archer.  Genesis 21:20 NCV

We see glimpses of this yearning among people we journey with in counseling. In their hurried, noisy, often painful, often fragmented lives, they seek a refuge from the onslaught of competing demands, a momentary pause so that they can catch their breath, a safe space to rest their wearied souls, a freedom they have never known, and a silence and solitude where they might get to know themselves and God.

It has taken me most of my life to learn to treasure the pain and loneliness it has caused.  To be honest, I still don’t treasure it well in the moment-

There are days it is more significant than others, days when I long to do what I was able to to do 40 years ago, or even 10 years ago. Bodies ache and bodies fail, and the demands we place on them do not diminish as fast as their capability. And the dissonance leaves us in a place where we understand Hagar and Ishmael, no longer part of the party. They look from a distance at the party fro God’s chosen, blessed son, and death not only seems close, but desirable. Hagar had reached the end of her rope, and gave up.

Been there, done that…. prayed for the second coming, not so much as to see God, but to escape this bloody, messed up painful world.

Nolasco is right about those he counsels, and I have pastored, there is an incredible need to find the place where we can get to know God. And sometimes, it is the very brokenness and isolation we know that allows for this. Let me rephrase – that point of emptiness leads us to the despair to cry out a pray – Lord have mercy! – 

There, in our desert, abondoned, in pain, we find out that the God who was with Ishmael is with us.

His plans for us may be different but the same blessing that God promised to Isac’s descendants will be poured out on ours. In fact, that two is promised because all nations would be blessed. All of theirs, Ishmael’s, Issac’s, Esau’s, Israel’s, all blessed by the coming of Jesus, all able to be united to Him through the death into a resurrected life, all who believe and are baptized given the Holy Spirit, again, the promised that God is with us, just as Jesus walked with the apostles.

Eeven the exiles and immigrants welcomed into the family of God.

Therefore I am, and if you feel the pain, and isolation life can deal us – you as well.

God walks with us… He is with us.

And I need rest to realize it… so… I leanr the hard way!  And rejoice



Rolf Nolasco Jr., The Contemplative Counselor: A Way of Being (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2011), 2.

About justifiedandsinner

I am a pastor of a Concordia Lutheran Church in Cerritos, California, where we rejoice in God's saving us from our sin, and the unrighteousness of the world. It is all about His work, the gift of salvation given to all who trust in Jesus Christ, and what He has done that is revealed in Scripture. God deserves all the glory, honor and praise, for He has rescued and redeemed His people.

Posted on November 10, 2023, in Devotions and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Truly, all nations will be blessed by the coming of Christ, joined in death and His glorious resurrection. Good encouragement.

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