When I Can’t See God

When I Can’t See God

September 25, 2017

“So the king of Jericho sent this message to Rahab: ‘Bring out the men who came to you and entered your house, because they have come to spy out the whole land.’ But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them.” Joshua 2:3-4a (NIV)

Devotion Graphic

I just couldn’t understand the struggle my daughter was having with learning to read. I tried everything … at least it felt like I had. All those different programs: Didn’t one of them have to work? Each time I changed her curriculum, the more frustrated I became, and the more Madi suffered.

I felt like a failure. What was I doing wrong? God, where are You? Why aren’t You helping us?

Each day, as we pulled out her lessons, we both needed a new strength, a new hope … a fresh confidence to move forward.

Does a time come to mind when you weren’t sure what your next steps should be, and God didn’t seem to be saying very much about it? Every day, you had to hang on to your confidence, even when you didn’t feel confident you knew what was going on?

When I look at Rahab from the Old Testament, I see a woman desperate for God — a God she’d heard was powerful. All of Jericho feared this God as the one who dried up the Red Sea and empowered Israel to conquer nations.

Rahab knew this God was making a move on Jericho, and when He did, she wanted to be on the right side. But would this God want her on His side?

How do you follow God when you can’t hear or see Him? How do you seek Him when the boost you need — to know He’s helping you — doesn’t come?

In times like these, my confidence is a little wobbly. When I don’t know if I should move, it’s awfully hard to make a move.

Rahab was moving in unfamiliar directions: Holy men in her home, hiding spies, following a God she couldn’t see, and depending on God rather than herself to meet her needs.

As her story unfolded, these were all things Rahab had never done before. I think she knew, deep in her heart, she was made for more than the life she was living, and she was ready to act on faith.

“So the king of Jericho sent this message to Rahab: ‘Bring out the men who came to you and entered your house, because they have come to spy out the whole land.’ But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them” (Joshua 2:3-4a).

Rahab took a brave step in hiding the Israelite spies, but, she didn’t experience immediate benefits. In fact, hiding the spies got her in trouble with the king! What she received was another opportunity to obey. She helped the spies slip out of her house and safely back to their camp.

Rahab might not have been aware she was trusting and obeying God, but that’s exactly what she did. (Read more in Joshua 2.)

Each day, Rahab had another opportunity to obey and another chance to gain fresh confidence from God as she chose to leave the scarlet cord, the sign the spies had chosen to keep her family safe, in the window. Seeing it hanging, day after day — this symbol of her new allegiance — provided plenty of opportunity for doubt to slip in. What am I doing? I don’t even know these people. A scarlet cord? Couldn’t they have picked something less obvious? I imagine the uncertainty was uncomfortable and scary.

Rahab had to put down doubt so she could pick up fresh faith.

That is what we must do each day, friends: Let’s put down courage-crushing thoughts, and pick up Christ’s confidence. We may not be hiding God’s spies, but we’re surrounded by equally valuable resources.

Each day when you pray for that child, but see no change, you’re keeping the cord in the window. Each time you take your kids to church while your spouse stays at home, you’re keeping the cord in the window. With every right choice, you’re living the belief you will see God’s faithfulness.

Lord, I can’t always see what You’re doing, but I trust that as I live out Your Word each day, it will make all of the difference in my life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Joshua 6:17, “The city and all that is in it are to be devoted to the Lord. Only Rahab the prostitute and all who are with her in her house shall be spared, because she hid the spies we sent.” (NIV)

Lynn Cowell’s newest book, Brave Beauty: Finding the Fearless You, builds a foundation for girls ages 8-12 to be brave and trust God. Click here to order your copy.

Visit Lynn’s blog today where she is sharing her upcoming women’s Bible study, Make Your Move: Finding Unshakeable Confidence Despite Your Fears and Failures. Get a free download there as well!

Take a moment and shut your eyes. Ask the Holy Spirit: What is my right move, my step of faith taken in Your confidence? Ask Him to empower you.

© 2017 by Lynn Cowell. All rights reserved.

  • Oh Lynn, I share your frustration for a child who struggles to read. I love words. They flow easily from my mouth and my fingers. They march obediently from page and screen into my mind. I want my child to experience what I enjoy.

    My 7 year old son’s teacher called me. “Mrs. Abbott, you have to come in. I know how to teach your child to read.” Oh joy! She met me at school with a stack of sandpaper flashcards. She explained that when he traced each letter of a flashcard word with his finger, those letters obediently marched into his head instead of flitting hither and thither. “5 minutes before school, 5 minutes after school, 5 minutes before dinner, 5 minutes before bed,” she said “As often as you can, never more than 5 minutes at a time.”

    It was a slow process. Letter-by-letter, words lined up in his head. So it is with us. God wants us to experience what brings him joy. We want it to come in an instant flash of glory. But really, it comes in many 5-minute moments spent with God.

    • Amanda

      Wise words Shirlee! ❤

    • Millie Mirembe

      Thank you Shirlee!

    • Regina

      This was a great devotion. I am praying for my husband to believe and slowly, he is. Shirley, your 5 minute moments was a wonderful example. I often feel like that is how my husband is learning!! In 5 minute increments.

    • Lanina


    • Sheree Stubblefield

      What a beautiful anecdote!! Definitely something I will remember. <3

    • Rizza N. Patilla

      That was touching.. :’) Thank God for the wisdom she gave you.

  • Lisa

    Thank you Lynn for this analogy of the scarlet cord. I pray daily for my three children. I needed this reminder as my youngest son has struggled the most in school out of all three. I am excited to share your devotion with him. It has made me want to get some scarlet colored cord or ribbon and put in his room as a visual reminder to him. ~Lisa~

    • Amanda

      Great idea Lisa! Praying for you and your children. ❤

      • Lisa

        Thank you Amanda ~Lisa~

  • RJR

    Very timely…thank you!

  • Omayra

    Love it…” keeping the cord in the window”.I’ll treasure this phrase everytime my husband starts to complain and deny anything related to church and people in it.

    • Amanda

      I can relate Omayra. Praying for you and your husband now. ❤

      • Karen

        I’m right there with you!!! Praying for you and your husband!

    • Carol

      Oh yes, Omayra! Let the cord be visible.

  • Amanda

    What a timely message! Last night I fell asleep praying that God would show me my next move and give me the courage to follow Him wherever He may take me. Thanks Lynn!

    • I love when we see His hand of help so clearly!

  • Karen

    Thanks Lynn! This was right on time for me!!! I am the one going to church with my son while my husband stays home. It’s been 20 years of prayer with little change in his attitude about Jesus. I will keep praying and making right choices as God leads me!!

    • Keep being brave, Karen! God can still do the impossible!

      • Karen

        Thank you, Lynn!!😘

      • Carol

        I am in this boat, but only a year and a half ago, he decided to stop going. Hard. Very hard. I don’t understand how you can blame GOD when YOU are the one who made bad circumstances happen.
        Praying. Praying for change in me that is so visible that the scarlet cord is visible.

  • Millie Mirembe

    Thank you Lynn. I’m really keeping the cord in the window!

    • He will help you, friend! His Holy Spirit empowers us to keep trusting and keep believing, even when we cannot see His hand.

  • phyllis

    I can relate to praying for something for such a very long time without seeing any thing happen. After losing a job where I had worked for 25 years, I needed a job in the worst way. That was 6 months ago. I still don’t have a job. Nor a promise of a job. But I know God has a plan for me, I just don’t know what. Or when. And to be honest, I’m getting a little worried, because thee money I had saved is running low. But all I know to do is just wait. Wait on God. And so…… I’ll wait.

    • Such a hard and difficult time, Phyllis. Sometimes when we can’t see, it is hard to not pull back from Him, wondering where He is and what is taking Him so long.

      Hebrews 10:19-22 helps us, “Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.’ ESV We can draw near with full assurance of faith – He is for us!

    • Sharon

      Phyllis, I am praying that today God will give you confirmation to help you stand firm. This is a hard place to be, but a great place to see God show up in a miraculous way! One time I had enough money for either diapers or a special formula my infant daughter could tolerate. Not enough money for both. Later that day, a salesman at work (a nursing home!) dropped by and asked as he went out the door if we knew anyone who needed this specific formula. He had a case in his stock that had been put in his car “accidentally”! I needed God to help me have the faith and He did! Then God gave us just what we needed! That was 35 years ago. He has always been faithful! He is for you, too!

    • friend

      Hello Mrs. Phyllis,
      The key words that you mentioned here are (funds are running low and you haven’t found work YET!) These are both very important things to remember as we want to see things come together when we want it to, and “before the funds are totally all gone”. And that’s where our God meets us most times, in these type of situations…..when our resources are dried up and only His is what we’re looking to. A lot of us have been in this very spot that you’re in Phyllis…and I’ve always found The Lord to come at that-( He’s not early but He’s always on time) just when I needed Him! Just hold on Phylis, hold the hand of God and trust Him…He will be there just in time when YOU need Him and He will not fail you and will provide for you.😊
      God bless you Phyllis…it’s all in HIS time. 😍
      He’s a GOOD GOD

  • janny holder

    this devotional spoke to me, thank you for your love and mercy Lord. I do try to live in the word and obey his commands, sometime it does feel like it does not make sense but I know God is good and his mercy will prevail and it never fails. I do pray for my children and take them to church almost every Sunday without my husband. so just the validation of that act in my life I can see how God is speaking to me and is pleased with my actions, thank you God.

    • You are a brave woman, Janny!

      I read this verse this morning – so powerful, “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive and find grace to help us in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16 (ESV)

  • Kati

    The scarlet cord…I love this. Taking the next right step today. ❤️

    • He is right with you, Kati, and the Holy Spirit empowering you!

  • Patsy

    I needed this devotion this morning as
    I was losing faith and becoming discouraged with battle of my little great granddaughter trying to read. When I read the exact battle I cried and thanked our Lord for His encouragement ❤️

    • This is absolutely amazing, Patsy!

      “Such confidence we have through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.” 2 Corin. 3:4-5 ESV

  • There is a line from the movie : Gods Not dead II, it is when the teacher is speaking with her grandfather and she is confused at how she has always had God lead her and now at a time when she needed His guidance the most, He wasn’t talking. Her grandfather told her “you should know that when the test is given, the teacher is silent.” I love that because even though the teacher is silent during a test, she/he is walking around or at least surveying the room and keeping her/his eyes on the whole situation. Sometimes we need to put 2 Corinthians 5;7 into practice…”we walk by faith, not by sight.” Thank you Lynn for your insights. Blessings

    • So true!

      • Lynn I love that you engage with your readers by responding to their posts and comments. Don’t ever lose that rare trait, as long as possible anyway. Thank you for being in touch 🙂

  • A cord of three strands is not easily broken. Thank you for this reminder.

  • Amen!

  • Maureen Smith

    What a great reminder to have confidence in my faith!

  • Marilyn

    Yes no matter what you see or how you feel keep moving, stay obedienr,keep pray because God is working you just dont see it in his time you will.


    Thank you for this devotion. Please pray for my family and I as we are experiencing some troubles, but nothing God cannot handle. I just need lots of prayers to help stay focused, determined, strong, and courageous. I need to get it together and keep it together for myself and my children’s sake. Thank you for the reminder that even though we cannot see him, he is there. In Jesus name, Amen. God Bless ladies!

    • friend

      I said a prayer for you Jessica~ for all of GOD’S best to be yours and your family’s, and, to come your way speedily.
      May GOD bless you and keep you and make His face to shine upon you and give you His peace.

  • Katie

    Thank you for the wonderful images in this devotion. But you left us hanging! Whatever happened with Mom, your daughter and her reading?

  • Karen

    Our God is a great God. I usually do not read the comments but for some reason I did today. I believe it was God. I would like to encourage all of you with children that are having difficulty with reading to have them screened for dyslexia. Talk to your pediatrician about this.
    Thank you Lynn for a wonderful devotion.

  • Angela

    This really spoke to me this morning. We are struggling with our adult daughter and I needed to hear this. Thank you so much!!!!!

  • mallie McEachern

    Hi, this has helped me so much. I have struggled feeling like a failure people always in my face telling me my children should have been reading in kindergarten. And my 2 and 3 grader still can’t read thank you for this word today

  • Anne

    Thank you so much for this devotion today, perfect timing for me! The question of a time when you’re not sure what your next steps should be is me right now. I’ve been praying for God’s direction in my work for years and feel like I’m not hearing Him. I think I’ve made some mis-steps and now I’m afraid to move without His clear guidance. But I’m taking small, daily steps and continuing to pray that I’m acting in His will for my life. I’m going to keep the scarlet cord in mind and hang on to His word. Thank you Lynn for this devotion!

  • Someone Who Cares

    Thank you for this Word. My 14 year old is healthy and bright, thank you Lord. He does not like school, struggles with reading, and can’t spell to save his life. :). Praise God he knows Jesus. I have been taking him to church for 11 years, without my husband. My God is an awesome God. He delivered my husband from the pit of alcoholism 2.5 years ago. I know my God is softening his heart and turning his stiff neck, and some day, in God’s timing, he will come to love and serve the Lord! now I want to hang a scarlet cord to remind myself of God’s faithfulness!

  • Lena K Wagers

    Thank you oh how I needed this message from your lips to Gods ear. My daughter Brooklyn whom is dyslexic, struggles with her 6th grade studies. I live in KY where our school sysytems dont have a program for Dyslecic children. Theirfore its up to the parent to find a Privet Tudor whom can set up a program to teach her to read. I’m a single mom of 4 beautiful kids but $30 an hour is a lot to any parent I would think. I am in my Junior semester of College myself at age 41 trying to build a future that I don’t have to rely on assistance. I’m so greatful for any assistance however I want my kids to know , no matter what we have been through God will give us the empowerment to overcome. I have been so discouraged not sure I’m on the right path and constantly everything seems to be a battle. so thank you for reminding me that he hears me too and their will come a day where he will tumble down the walls of fear and we will be remembered .

    • Rachael

      Hi Lena,

      I just wanted to let you know that it is your school districts responsibility to provide disability related services for your daughter!! it is your daughters right to have equitable educational opportunities afforded to her. If she is officially diagnosed with dyslexia, she has a learning disability and she needs extra help just to have the same chance to learn as her peers. They cannot require you to spend your own time and money on private services! Even if they have to hire a reading specialist just for her that is their responsibility by law.

  • Liz

    I really needed this deviation today. I’m in very similar situation with helping my child read & have tried everything! On another note also struggling with feeling God & let alone hearing Him. How do I know I am where I’m supposed to be? Doing everything I’m supposed to do? Thanks again!

  • Marcia

    Thanks for this devotional such a blessing. Many blessings to you and family as you labor for the Kingdom.

  • Linda Wink – berry

    While struggling to find resolve with my younger sister of 4 year to let my siblings & I come across the country to visit OUR MOM THE LAST 3 YEARS, after she took mom from her home for a 3 months visit, has not been easy. Mom is approaching her 90 the birthday, and had been living an hour away from 2 other sisters prior to her 3 month visit across the country. Discussion after discussion between my siblings and much prayers bring said, phone calls to reason with sister on our visits left us to no avail. She thought we did not deserve to have visits and monitors our call to mom. Even interrupted our prayer time with mom. I struggle with GOD, in knowing what HE is encouraging me & showing me to pursue with his confidence he has inspired me to use, with his abilities while forming me to be who I am today. So I keep praying, for his time to be revealed.

  • Thank you so much for sharing this devotion. It’s exactly what I needed today. My family and I have been praying about a very important decision the last few months, and have been confident in the decision, but the last few days, some doubt has set in. However, after reading this, it’s clear that we are making the right decision!!! I pray that God blesses you richly for sharing your hearts with so many people! You are a blessing!

  • Andrea

    I thank you Lynn for sending out this devotion. I felt God leading me to read about Rahab last week. I felt like He was saying I am like her. Now it is even more clear to me the similarities between Rahab and myself, and alot of others, and how it is to take courage and obey God. God sends me to talk to people around me about Jesus. Sometimes it seems so difficult, but God always makes a molehill out of the things I have made into a mountain!

  • Debbie Rumpza

    Thank you for this devotional! Since I first read about Rahab, I have loved her story of redemption. But I’ve never thought about the scarlet cord in the way you wrote about it today. I WAS the wife, taking my kids to church all through their growing up years, while my husband stayed home, as I found the Lord after 7 years of marriage. I still am (except the kids are grown). I AM the mom praying for my kids daily as they fumble through young adulthood, not relying on Jesus. My scarlet cord is definitely still hanging out the window.. But God is faithful! (((hugs)))

  • Morgan

    Thank you for this devotion today! I felt like it was speaking to me… I have been praying for a job for months now, and have felt crushed many times by coming close, but not getting the job. I am newly married and moved to a new city for my spouse, and while I desperately want to filled with joy during this time, not being able to find a job has produced profound loneliness, bitterness, failure and financial struggles. I am trying to trust and obey God every day, reject negative thoughts and stay the course (but some days it is SO hard) — this further reminded me that He is faithful and has a great plan for me.

  • Carmen Hernández

    Powerful revelation about Rahah love it

  • Tammy Ross

    Pray for OS that God will show him that God has a good solid plan for his life. God please give him favor as he continues to get adjusted to college.

  • nanette

    I have been praying for guidance in my marriage and faith and trust …And there are things changing but slowly and patiently I wait.

  • Erin H.

    Thank you for the encouragement today, Lynn. I am the one who takes my son to church every week while my husband stays home. Most weeks, I accept it as our “normal”, but every now and then, the discouragement creeps in.

  • Lord, you know my struggle. You know what has plagued me this past year. Help me understand. And help me make the right move. But also, help me see the lesson in whichever move I decide to make. I’m trying, Lord. Sometimes it feels like I don’t do enough but I’m trying to understand and be faithful and patient. But I am growing so weary. I’m having weak moments. But Lord, help me see. Help me. I need your help.

  • Susan G.

    Thanks for this Lynn! Loved it! God is always with us and wants us to know His will. When I am not sure just what my next move should be, I ask Him and His Holy Spirit to guide me as I step out in faith. I keep trusting Him because He’s never failed me yet in 50 years! God is always near to us and does care about every detail of our lives!
    Bless you!

  • moore

    I praise the Lord everyday. I give him thanks for waking me up again every single day. When I am not sure, about my direction. I go to the Lord in prayer. I had a void in my life. My mom went home to be with the Lord. This October 28, 2017 will be one year. I still go to meetings with MJHS, for hospice patients. So, I decided to go back
    to college. I can hear my mom saying. Ma, when are you going back to school? I am alright, I can take care of myself. My mom was real sick with COPD in and out of hospitals. Before, I decided to go back to college. I went to the Lord in prayer. I had to ask the Lord, please show me the way. Give the Lord the Praises at all times. AMEN

  • Lynda

    Thank you for your devotion. I have several struggles and am really trying to listen toGod and follow what He wants me to do. Thank you fornthe inspiration.

  • Lynda

    Thank you for your devotion. I have several struggles and am really trying to listen to God and follow what He wants me to do. Thank you for the inspiration.

  • Janice Alston

    Through trials and struggles, you learn to trust God.

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