This message of hope is for anyone who has felt like God didn’t hear your prayers or care about your pain. All around you see evidence of others’ answered prayers and wonder if you’ve been left out. I think we sometimes confuse “showing off” with “showing up.” Come on over and let’s find light for your weary soul.

When God Doesn’t Show Off

On the first morning of a family vacation to the North Carolina coast, I awoke to find my husband and my baby were missing. They had beat me to the beach and were playing in the water.

Above them, “the blue” was beginning to transition from grey to shades of pink and orange as the sun hinted at its arrival. And when it did make its appearance, we were not disappointed. The sky was ablaze with God’s majesty, proclaiming His handiwork.

“God’s just showing off. Because He can,”
reverberated in my mind.

Sunrise on the beach


We took a morning walk along the beach after breakfast and I snapped pictures of others’ footprints, noticing how quickly they disappeared once the tide reached the imprint. We built a family sand castle and then returned to sit and watch the ocean reclaim the building materials later that afternoon. And the day ended with yet another firmament on fire. It was a glorious day.


The day's activities on the beach


Twice that day I stood on the beach, toes in the sand, and worshipped. My heart was full and so aware of God’s presence and His power. Worries from the previous few weeks seemed to follow the pattern of those footprints ~ washed away. Both morning and evening, I filled my phone with photos. Way too many photos.


Gorgeous sunset over the water


I woke up even earlier the next morning with a plan. My husband and I took chairs and the thermal carafe of coffee to the shore. I would savor every moment of sunrise and linger. We positioned ourselves to wait.

But this morning was different. Clouds had moved in.
No pinks. No orange. No sky on fire. No showing off.
The clouds were so thick we couldn’t see the sun ball at all.
The sun still rose, but there was no evidence beyond the diffused light.

I don’t have pictures to show of that morning. They didn’t inspire clicks. There was no breathtaking commentary. But as I sat there staring at the drab — yet enlightened — horizon, I pondered what it illustrated about faith.

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for,
the conviction of things not seen.”

(Hebrews 11:1)

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”
(Hebrews 13:8)

“How precious are your thoughts about me,
O God.
They cannot be numbered!
I can’t even count them;
they outnumber the grains of sand!
And when I wake up, you are still with me!”

(Psalm 139:17-18 NLT)

The same sun that rose the day before had risen on that morning, even though I couldn’t see it. I was confident.

The same God who had “shown off the night before” was on His throne that dull morning. No doubt.

The lack of wonder in His creation didn’t cause me to wonder if He still cared about His child. I was certain.

Showing off vs. Showing up

We have no problem reconciling the shifting seasons and unpredictable weather with a God who never changes. But when the storms of life move in or the days of gray skies linger longer than we like ~ well, that can sometimes be a challenge.

Why is that?

  • I think we sometimes confuse “showing off” with “showing up.”
  • We begin to base our faith on the evidence of answered prayers instead of the promise of a God who hears.
  • We let our emotions and experiences tell the story in our head instead of defining the narrative with the truth of God’s Word.

But when it comes to faith:
What is seen (or not seen)
cannot trump what is known.

There is no substitute for Scripture – not even the sense of God’s presence, the power we feel when we pray, or the times when He provides an answer in an unmistakable way. Those are glorious blessings of walking in faith, but there will be times that walking by faith means simply stepping from one promise to another in God’s Word.

When all is stripped away,
one thing remains.
“The grass withers, the flower fades,
but the word of our God will stand forever.”
(Isaiah 40:8)


Focused on #NoFilter

We naturally gravitate toward, record, and recount painted sky moments. The #blessed #nofilter instagram-worthy images and occasions.

There’s nothing wrong with those and celebrating answered prayers is good. Doing so causes us to reflect on God’s providence in our lives and give Him glory for all that is praiseworthy. In today’s world, we have countless mediums and platforms to share the good news of healed bodies, saved souls, and restored relationships.

But defining whether or not
God is hearing us
by looking for the evidence
of His working
can morph into another form of
walking by sight.

If those times of empirical evidence become the source for determining if God “showed up,” then we are building sandcastles in the sand. The cornerstone of salvation is Jesus himself and the building blocks of our faith must be His Word. Period.

Absence of color does not equal absence of light

Dear reader, this message is one I have lived to write about. During a season of trials and setbacks, my prayers were seemingly answered with, “Cricket. Cricket.” I cried out to God and blasted praise music like it was a can of Lysol. Nothing.

I was left with this question: “Is His Word enough?” God’s Word had to sustain me when other spiritual experiences seemingly failed me. And The Word didn’t fail.

But it was through that experience of being pruned from answered prayers that the roots of my faith stretched deeper. It was an unexpected experience. Prior to that time of life, I never would have thought of answered prayers as being a crutch and a hindrance to growth. But in hindsight I understand. And sitting on that beach, I saw the lesson in pictures.

I cannot put my trust
in the painted sky.
I can only appreciate its beauty.
Faith must be settled in the light,
even when it stays behind the clouds.

The same is true for you.

You may be in a time of trials. It may seem that God is distant. Maybe you are being tested by God or attacked by Satan. You may be even fighting your own flesh. It may feel like God doesn’t hear your prayers or care about your pain. All around you see evidence of others’ answered prayers and wonder if you’ve been left out.

Despite the way it seems. Regardless of the way you feel. Scripture cuts through the darkness with light of truth. Start with Psalm 139 and if you need help studying the Word, see my recommendation at the end.

And remember this:

On those days, weeks, months or even years when you can’t see the color, you can still see the light.

Return to the source and lean into the Word. The Word is The Light.
Light itself began with God’s words (Gen. 1:3). Jesus is both (John 1:1-4).

The light will NOT fail you
and the Word WILL sustain you.

Even if it doesn’t seem like
God is “showing off” in your life,
know this:
He has never failed to SHOW UP.


P.S. Are you my email friend?

If you’re reading this, it’s quite possible you need encouragement. I have something that might help: my Scripture mini-guide, 6 Cries of the Heart. It comes with a link to a companion set of praise song playlists. It’s free for my email friends. Life is hard. Don’t do it alone.

Encouraging You as You inspire others,

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ChristiWhen God Doesn’t Show Off

Comments 36

  1. Flora Okidia

    Awesome read. This really made me see things in a new light. I especially love thevfact that He never fails to show up even though he doesn’t show off every time. That’s my blessed assurance.
    God bless you

  2. Thiệu-Tiết

    Such wisdom, such insight, and such convicting reminder to put our trust and hope in God’s written word.

    I’ve just found your blog an hr or so ago on fb, so timing and providential bc I don’t go searching for blogs.

    Love your wisdom, your logic, your outline, and your layout.

    Thank you, and God’s rich blessings.

    1. Post

      Thank you for such sweet encouragement. Hearing that you were drawn into thoughts of trust and hope in God’s Word is precious to me.

      I’m glad you are here!

  3. Karen M. Roth

    I found you through Melanie Redd. I am so glad I did. I so needed this message today more than you will ever realize. you see, I laid prostrate across my bed today after my husband left to go for a walk with our dog and just wept and cried out for healing of Mind, Emotions, Body, and Soul.

    I am currently being tested for 3 different Cancers and suffering from multiple painful Chronic Illnesses. My medical Records have been held in an investigation and so that has held up every single Test and Doctor I need to see. To give you an example: I have been waiting for my Left Hip MRI to check to see if the Bone Tumor is growing in my leg for a year and a half. I have been so ill since September 10, 2015.

    Today was the first time in two years I have been able to go to Church. I feel numb except for pain and heartache. I also suffer from Complex PTSD which I have had since I was 5 years old and never was diagnosed with it until last year. For me when I feel closest to God is either when I am singing or crafting. Today is the first time I have truly just sang in three years.

    Thanks to a new Friend I met on FB who is new to my Church who helped more than she realizes to see that I had given up on myself and I was letting things get in a very unhealthy way in our apartment and it was truly affecting my health in a very bad way. I was actually so Depressed I was not even eating and I had lost alot of weight and was so physically weak I could not even hang up my own clothing. Before she showed up on the scene I had asked God to send me at least one Friend who truly cared about me and He did but the lessons I learned from him through her mouth were hard ones and I had to meditate on the words for the rest of the day. But then I saw finally that even though I was crying out for people to help me and to be my Friends I was at the same time pushing them away with my Negativity even my own husband.

    I struggle heavily with this as all my life I have had nothing but Negative things happen to me or I was a witness to . I have only longed to share my story to find anyone who is willing just to care, but noone is willing to hear it all as it drains them of energy and Depresses them. So on this earth I have really had noone to help bear my Burdens or to Pray with me. I cannot help what I have been through but I have always hoped that by sharing my Story that perhaps I can save someone from going through the same pain I have been through and to just be an Encouragement to them in some way. To me it is not negativity I see but rather the Glory of God shining forth in my life as I am still here despite everything that has tried to kill me. But people do not see that part of my Testimony for some reason they are just focused on the tragedies and heartache.

    1. Post

      I am so sorry for such an unimaginably painful journey. Praying God holds you close and helps you continue to take each step of faith leaning on His everlasting arms. Thank you for being here and sharing your stories. What an amazing testimony.

  4. Grace Esedeke

    Beautiful post. This post blessed me Christi. Really. I have been the ‘experience’ freak Christian. Always looking for an experience, to feel His presence, to see His power. I’m now starting to value His word more than anything and to be content with it with or without the ‘showing off’.
    Please I’ll like to feature this post on my Friday faves…
    God bless you.
    Have a great weekend.

    1. Post

      Hi Grace! So fun to meet a new friend. You are in good company of those striving to value the Word over the “experience.” It’s a journey.

      I’d be honored to be counted among your faves :)

  5. Jen

    Hi, Christi! I’m stopping by for the third time this week from Grace and Truth! :) I was so excited to see that you had linked this post with us this week because that made choosing a feature so very easy. Thank you for your faithfulness to the Lord.
    Jen :)

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  6. Andy L. Lee

    Hey Christi! Found you on the Faith and friends link, and I’m so glad I did. You post was beautiful,especially the pictures, but I love when God shows you how he as other people sharing the message you are for the week. I give a weekly reading plan, and this week has been focused on faith. Your site is great! I’m so impressed with your marketing. You’re doing a great job. Keep up the good work for the Kingdom! Blessings!

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  7. Donna Reidland

    A beautifully written post with a powerful message! I’ve recently been studying the book of Esther. It’s so interesting that God is not mentioned anywhere in the book, but evidence of His work and faithfulness are everywhere! I hope you’ll come link up at Soul Survival. Blessings!

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  8. Beth Willis Miller

    Christi, WOW! What a great post! I love standing on the shore of the ocean and worshipping our Creator…I so agree with your post, it’s not about answered prayer, it’s about trusting our Sovereign God who sees the end from the beginning and has a wonderful plan, hope, and future for each of us…many blessings to you!

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  9. Anita Ojeda

    You’ve nailed it, Christi. I, to, enjoy blazing sunrises and sunsets and answered prayers. But the growing happens in the cloudy times when we know by faith the sunrises and sunsets are still orchestrated by His hand.

    1. Post

      Thank you Anita. Growth in the cloudy :) Yes! Sometimes He says come and grow when I really just want to sit and watch. May we all have the strength to follow and the faith to hold on.

  10. Ruthie Gray

    Love Psalm 119 – I’ve felt lucky lately that it’s party of my Bible reading schedule this week! (Like I can’t read it other times too lol.) I wondered how that vacay went on the heels of the big flood. Luckily, God’s sun still comes up whether or certain parts of the world are flooding – AND it’s still there even when we can’t see it.
    I’ve done that many a time – set the alarm, got the coffee, the chair, and nada.
    This is good. Really good. “When it comes to faith, what is seen (or not seen) cannot trump what is know. YES. #blessed #nofilter = LOL. I often wonder when people post answers to prayer on the internet and then say, “God is GOOD” if they would also say that if they didn’t get their answer. I know I have a problem saying it when I don’t get mine. (Or my sunrise.) This post – such a blessing to my soul, and exactly what my readers (especially a certain reader) need to hear today. Sharing now!
    You have awesome word-flair. #wordflair

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      Amen to all of this, sister. And your last line — the word followed by the hashtag — made me think of the youngest child on the sitcom “The Middle” who whispers after he says certain phrases. :) Thanks as always for the encouragement!

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  11. Valerie Sisco at Grace with Silk

    I love the truth in this beautiful post (and the photos are stunning)! We have to settle in our hearts that God is listening and has good for us when all we can see are clouds instead of a gorgeous sunset. Always enjoy what I read here and I ponder it long afterward!

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  12. helloredds

    What a wonderful picture of the ways of God – to compare them to the sun rising! I love this, Christi!

    And, once again, God has used your words and His Word to speak loudly to my heart!

    Thank you for using your gifts to bless others.
    I am one of them~

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  13. sparkle808

    Don’t confuse “showing off” with “showing up!” WOW!! That’s
    absolutely true….and so well said. The same God that was present
    on my vacation to the mountains last week is the same God present
    here where the land is flat and there are (usually) no grand sunrises,
    at least not visible from my house. Sometimes I feel invisible and
    forgotten, but in my heart I know my wonderful God is with me, even
    when I can’t “feel” Him. Thank you for knowing what to say and how
    to say it! It is a gift from God!

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  14. stultsmamaof4

    Oh, Christi, these words – just what I needed to read tonight. I’ve been busy feeling sorry for myself the last couple of weeks and am feeling so convicted the last few days. You’re right. The Word is enough. He is enough. I don’t need a grand display of His might to sustain my faith.
    Jen :)

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      Oh, Jen. With all going on in your life I can only imagine the struggle to wrangle the narrative in your head. What an inspiration you are. So privileged to be a messenger to a messenger. :). Sweet dreams. Praying for you now.

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