Looking for Hidden Beauty

Looking for Hidden Beauty

January 24, 2014

“For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.” 1 Corinthians 13:12 (NASB)

As a child who grew up swimming in the ocean off the coast of North Carolina, I was used to wading into murky waters. The sun sparkled brilliantly on the surface, but most of the time I couldn’t see anything past a few inches from the top of the brownish Atlantic Ocean. My young mind whirled as my toes met with all kinds of unknowns.

“What’s that sharp edge?!”

“Oooo … a slimy thing!”

“What just brushed past me?!”

A sting from a jellyfish and watching Jaws fueled my active imagination and latent fears. I couldn’t see what was swimming in the vast expanse around me, so I worried, “What’s in there?”

One rare day, I waded into the ocean and much to my surprise, my toes were in full view! I don’t know what caused the unusual clarity, but that day our waters were like the crystal-clear blue seas of the Caribbean.

Suddenly, I could see all the delights around me. Brightly colored seaweed, flashing silver scales of a fish, and shells were pushed along the bottom by the tide. The sight that remains sharp in my memory, though, was a yellow piece of seaweed with several exquisite black and white striped angelfish swimming around it.

Was THAT what I had been worrying about?

The little vignette looked like something I’d pay to see in a public aquarium. The beauty was riveting, and I was shocked to know these gorgeous fish had been there all along, hidden by the cloudy water.

Life is so often like the lesson I learned that day. Most of the time we are wading through life without seeing every situation clearly, and it’s easy to become fearful of what we can’t see.

But just because the beauty is hidden, doesn’t mean there’s no beauty to be found. I’ve often gone through hard times when I couldn’t see where my next footstep would land. That’s just a season, though, not the whole picture. We truly only see in part, but thankfully we can befriend the One who knows fully.

If we could only see our lives through God’s eyes, the lens of eternity, we’d see that just below the surface there is something beautiful. He has created each day and each moment with purpose. Sometimes our vision will be cloudy and other seasons will bring enough clarity to see the loveliness of God’s concealed work.

I remember sitting beside my friend’s bedside as death approached. Watching her still face, I prayed for God’s will to be done quickly and peacefully. Walking through that experience with her, a young mother with precious little boys, was a very murky time for me. I just didn’t understand why her life had to end so soon.

But as I prayed, God reminded me that every minute of her life was beautiful and precious, even those she spent near death in a hospital bed. Rather than just seeing the heartache and pain, God opened my eyes to see His good work in and purpose for my friend’s life. Years later I still remember the beauty of her life. Her example of proclaiming God’s goodness in the midst of a tragic reality modeled deep faith in her Father’s reign over her eternal story.

In each season of our lives, even the ones moving through murky waters when we can only see in part, we can trust in the One who views it all. There is something beautiful happening just below the surface. May God give us eyes to see it clearly.

Lord God, You are good. I trust You are doing beautiful things in my life even when I can’t see them. Please help me trust when I don’t see Your eternal picture clearly and hold on tightly to You until a new season of clarity. Amen.

Related Resources:
What Happens When Women Say Yes to God by Lysa TerKeurst

An Untroubled Heart by Micca Campbell

God brought great beauty in the midst of terminal cancer in Amy Carroll’s friend’s life. To hear more about it, visit Amy’s blog today.

Reflect and Respond:
How would things change if you truly believed that this season won’t last forever—that it’s only part of God’s bigger, eternal picture?

List some of the other seasons of your life. Looking back, can you see with clarity some of the beautiful work of God even in the hard ones?

Power Verses:
Ephesians 3: 20-21, “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” (NIV)

© 2014 by Amy Carroll. All rights reserved.

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  1. know that God has done a lot of incredible things in my life. Things changed for the better, as far as me and my husband, Ron Smithare concerned… God brought us back togeth…er after a lengthy hiatus following graduation from the Illinois School for the Visually Impaired (ISVI) in Jacksonville Illinois. I guess the reason God had us a part for so long was to test our faith that we’d someday end up getting back together. ““For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.” 1 Corinthians 13:12 (NASB Unfortunately, people have looked at both my husband and I as though we are dumb- that we can’t do much because of our disabilities. Ultimately, I see us as God’s beautiful creatures, who have been made in Jesus’ wonderful image. We’re unique, and that’s why we ♥ one another for who we are on the inside. What’s on the outside doesn’t matter to us whatsoever. The fact my husband can’t see and I have difficulty walking and have limited sight- that isn’t what makes us ♥ one another so much. We fell in ♥ with each other because of our character and what God placed inside us. “Lord God, You are good. I trust You are doing beautiful things in my life even when I can’t see them. Please help me trust when I don’t see Your eternal picture clearly and hold on tightly to You until a new season of clarity. Amen.”~Amy Carrol
    I can see what God’s been doing in my husband’s life. He is no longer depressed because he and I are together for good. Others can see what God’s been doing in my life by watching me worship each week at the Pentecostals of Springfield. Ultimately, my church driver, Pam Hyde enjoys watching me get my worship on. Ephesians 3: 20-21, “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” (NIV)
    God can do a work in ll of us, whether we notice it or not. While at church, I’ve even seen some of the little kids get the Holy Ghost. Even a friend, who I bring with me on Sunday nights, had that happen to him this past Sunday. I ♥ seeing how God works

    • Amy Carroll says:

      Nico, your beautiful perspective always brightens my day. Your eyesight may be limited, but you really SEE!


    • Nico,
      Beautiful ~ simply beautiful! You positive outlook is really encouraging – thank you.
      God bless you and Ron!

  2. Dear Amy,
    I am living through a very difficult time in my life. Getting a divorce at age 50 with a 15 and a 12 year old.
    Last night I was dealt a big disappointment and went to bed crying. This morning, my thoughts started shaping around all negative aspects of the situation.
    Reading this helps me remember that I don’t see the whole plan, so I shouldn’t assume this disappointment is indeed that. I should remember that it’s just a piece of the bigger puzzle and trust God that it belongs.
    Thank you for this reminder.

    • @Shelly: Prayed for you just now-and for your children. I pray that despite this sad, difficult time you will feel God’s arms around you today-holding you as you walk this road.

    • Dear Sweet lady,
      These are moments we thought we would not experience, but I can relate to your situation immensely. It’s going on 5 years and I still face obstacles; when my ex-husband and I divorced my world was devastated. My ground was shaky and I couldn’t see clearly. The Lord is faithful and He see the broken hearted and has wrapped his arms around you so tight sweet lady. Jeremiah 17:7-8 and Psalms 56:3 I have these memorized and when I am afraid I will *TRUST* Jesus and know in the year(s) of my drought He still will continue to provide. At the time of my divorce I was a stay at home mommy to 3 precious boys and my ex-husband ran our business and He was awarded many material things including our boys. Found myself broke, homeless in a sense, most important without my babies. Today, God’s faithful Love has kept me going! I am completing my 4th year of college in the medical industry and recently remarried and everyday I see Gods plan unfold! There are battles, but I remember what Ephesians 6 states “The Armor of God” suit yourself up and stay fervent in Gods word and Pray and know your his precious daughter! Amen

    • Amy Carroll says:

      Shelly, I’m praying for you right now. As you walk through this time when it’s hard to find and see the beauty, I’m praying you hold on to Jesus for dear life until you reach a clear place where you can see Him at work again. He’s walking right beside you taking note of every tear.

    • Shelly,

      Praying for God’s amazing grace and comfort for you and your children. That your faith would hold strong as you journey down this new path. Praying also for wisdom with your children as they adjust to the changes in your family. May his grace and love overflow into your life and your children’s lives. I’ll continue to pray for you.

    • My mom & dad separated & divorced after 20 years of marriage. I was 19 at the time. From my experience as the kid (even though I was 19, I felt like a scared 5 year old wondering why, etc), I can say just be there for your kids. Show them the tears as it shows them you’re hurt rather than not feeling anything from it…my mom wouldn’t cry in front of us for a long time as she didn’t want us to see her as weak. Just made me feel she didn’t miss my dad, etc. Let the kids feel, even though it’s hard when sometimes the other parent isn’t the good one (dealing with this as the parent with my ex-husband). Most importantly, put God 1st. Show them how you lean on Him so to teach them the same when they face struggles more than this current one. You have quite a few people just in this study praying for you now…not to mention those in your personal life who already were & are. You are loved…you are God’s special princess. 🙂

  3. Thank you for this wonderful devotion, it truly was what I needed to hear today. God Bless for you gift of writing and teaching His word.

  4. stephanie says:

    Thank you so much for this devotion. It came just st the right time. I can now face my day and days to come with a whole new outlook.

  5. Thank you so much for the encouraging words. I, too, grew up swimming in the Atlantic ocean & I also felt the same way about the things unseen under the water. But, I also learned that once you got past the part where all the shells & rocks lay and other weird things the sand beneath your feet is very smooth and soft. And the waves are more fun too. But in getting to that point in the water I had to go thru that “rough” spot to get to the “smooth, nice” spot for my feet. Just so in life too. We have to trust God and walk thru the rough spots to get to a better place where we can stand. God didn’t magically take me over that rough spot I wanted to avoid, but I had to walk over it. I know I’ve rambled on here, but I wanted to share my “ocean” story. Thanks for listening. Have a blessed day.

    • Amy Carroll says:

      I love how you saw an additional insight, Mandy, from our like experience! It makes me long for summer to feel those waves again. 🙂

  6. Thanks you for this devotion. my daughter-in-law just lost her brother, he was 25. This will help me to minister to her as she remembers the precious times she spent with him in life. thanks you so much and God bless you.

  7. This is an absolutely beautiful, insightful devotional. Thank you, Amy.

  8. This morning, my daughter left the house angry and resentful over a punishment she recieved for bad grades. It’s so hard–I sometimes just want to make her happy instead of having her be angry at me, and my husband and I sometimes question ourselves. Did we do the right thing? Will she be okay? Thanks for this reminder that even when the waters are somewhat murky and difficult to see through, God is working a beautiful thing.

    • Amy Carroll says:

      Oh, yes! I can definitely relate. Parenting can be very murky waters. I’m praying for you as you set boundaries for safety just like God sets them for us. You’re a good mama!

    • Gillie Ruth says:

      Oh my, I don’t know all your circumstances, but punishing someone for not being clever is cruel. If your child is clever and not performing to,your expectations, then you need to find out why, and help, and look at YOUR expectations of your child. I say this as a Christian teacher and mother with two now adult children with learning and developmental problems which resolved as they grew up with Gods guidance amd our understanding. I cannot do maths past a certain level and failed many times, but eventually I found my level, and that is as it should be. If you make your child angry and humiliated to the point of running away, who has some learning to do? Yes I feel,strongly about this, but after 40 years teaching and parenting, this is not the way I feel you should treat a precious child. God bless you and help,you all.

  9. This is something I constantly need to be reminded of that God sees the bigger picture and he created the master plan. We recently moved from our home to an unfamiliar city not knowing any one. The move was very difficult for our family especially for our oldest who is nine. He did not want to go to a new school and he’d miss hiss old friends. Many nights up until the move I cried. “God I see the pain and hurt my child is going through why are we moving what are you doing here!!!” The Lord quickly remained me that he loves me and he can see the bigger picture. That this move was part of my prayer….which was lord mold me into the women of God that you want me to be… And part of that was fully trusting him. I occasionally ask The Lord to show me a glimpse of that plan. The boys would ask mommy why are we moving I just respond and tell them God has a plan for us and our job is to be obedient. My prayer is that my boys would also grow during this season of our lives as the Lird continues to give us more clarity.

  10. Thank you Amy for the obedience shown to the Holy Spirt…About 1 year ago, I prayed for change at my job. I work as a health care worker, and felt that “customer service” lacked among other things. Well with the changes in healthcare came change..Less people to work with change…and now I find myself in a job that I really dread but am unable to leave financially, and have about 6 years before retirement! But I know that God who sees the bigger picture..knows the ending of this story. Your devo comes to me reconfirming that this is just a season of murky and that He will reveal the “Beautiful” in time. I just ask for prayer to be content where I’m at and to ask God to reveal the “Plan B” for my life…Blessings to you sweet Sister…

  11. I need prayers so much right now, going through a depression and great heartache. I lost my mom on july 5th 2013. She had cancee and she wentbthrough the radiation and chemo. We thought she was getting better but she took a turn for the worse. I.stayed by her bedside up at the hospital as much as I.could. I held her hand and never gave up hope that she would get better. I have 3 brothers that really werent.there for my mom so I felt alone in being the only one there for her. I did everything I could to help her. I did not want to lose my mom , my best friend. I love and miss her so much. The heartache hurts bad. My kids miss her very much to. She played a big part in our lives. I also dont have.my dad, grandparents, uncle or aunt either. I have lost so many. But when I lost my mom, it hurt the most. I keep wondering why did she have to.go? Why? I dont know what to do anymore, sometimes I cry myself to sleep. I.just really need my mom still so much.in my life. Thank you for listening.

    • Angie,
      I am praying for you. I lost my mom when I was 30 years old and my children and I missed her terribly. She was involved in every aspect of our lives, from major decisions to daily little league practices. I also have three siblings who were not really involved in our mothers illness and passing and did not seem to be as emotionally affected by it as I was. Although that has been many years ago sometimes a moment like this brings back that sadness and deep longing for her to be here with me. Your post brought tears to my eyes. I can tell you that it does get easier, but it takes time. You and I were lucky to have such a great relationship with our moms.
      Day by day lean on the Lord and He will carry you through this lonely time and these “murky waters”. I will continue to pray for you.

  12. Today, my husband and I celebrate 26 years of marriage. And in those years there has been murky waters. The murky waters of limited finances, and sometimes nothing coming in, had caused me to want to bail out of the boat, hopelessly believing that we would not one day reach and see clear waters. The murky waters of childlessness after 15 years of trying and then having a hysterectomy 7 years ago, caused days of regret for me especially when thinking about our future ( who’s going to care for us in our older years) until God reminded me that there are parents whose kids couldn’t care less about them and would rather stick them in a rest home than be a part of their golden years. I do thank God for every minute of every day of every year. My husband and I are rekindling the fires and even are beginning to see not just clearer waters, but the beauty what was always there…underneath it all. Thanks for this wonderful reminder. I also live in NC and travel back and forth to it’s beautiful beaches. Heading there now for the weekend to celebrate with “hubby” ( it’s also his birthday).

    • Thanks Marie for your comment. Although I have been married only a short time, I married late in life and the “childlessness” thing bothers me. We (biologically) only had a couple of years to make it happen and it doesn’t appear it was God’s will. You are correct, I personally know people who are not attentive to the needs of their elderly parents, so children do not necessarily guarantee assistance in one’s latter years. My sister recently told me she overheard a niece and nephew (they are young adults) discussing me and how they were keeping in mind that since I do not have any kids THEY will need to help me when I am old. Just a reminder that God has it all under control… Enjoyed your testimony today!

      • That’s amazing Rosie! I have two nieces as well and a god-daughter who looks out for us even now. Praying that God will bring “fruitfulness” in other areas of your new marriage!!

    • That’s awesome! What a testimony you have & I can’t imagine how many you can relate to with what you’ve went through that so many haven’t. Thank you for sharing & being real! Happy anniversary!

      • Thanks, Jenn! I take joy in knowing that often times my pain, is someone else’s gain. It was not always “joyful” to see it this way, but Daddy is so merciful to his and with his girls! Don’t you just love Him???!!

    • Amy Carroll says:

      Thank you so much for sharing your inspiring testimony of our Redeemer, Marie!

      • Thanks, Amy! I continue to be inspired by my sisters here and the great leaders of P31! Whew, there are some days when I can’t seem to thank them enough!!! God knows just what we need, when we need!!!

  13. jackie whitlow says:

    I hear your words and i so want to believe them but its so hard..I lost my mother,sister and best friend of 20+ years all within of about a year. I dont know how to cope and havent been able to talk to the pastor of my church since i havent been back since the death of my friend which was 3 months ago.I am so angry and i just keep asking what did i do?.God why? I know there is a light a the end of this dark tunnel i just can’t find the light switch.I keep ready everything i can about the way i feel but i just keep searching..Maybe there is hope…

    • Jackie, I’ve walked this road with you, though not as twisted as some of yours! I lost a good friend a few months ago and it is getting easier to think about her but I still want to pick up the phone and talk with her because we lived several hundred miles apart. All of this is a natural part of grief and we each walk the road differently but the same in some respects. You need to find someone to share with, whether a good christian friend or pastor because it will make a difference when someone can give you a hug and say that Jesus loves you and understand your hurt. Just give Him time and the hurt will not be as bad, and each day it will get easier when you turn everything over to him. Don’t worry about what the pastor thinks, he probably has heard worse excuses than yours!!!

    • Amy Carroll says:

      Jackie, I think Chris shared some real wisdom. I’m praying today for people to come around you in prayer and as the hands and feet of Jesus. Cling to Jesus and His hope, sweet sister. The loss you’ve experienced is tremendous, and He weeps with you. You’re loved.

    • Jackie, pain and loss are the lemons of life that we all have or will have experienced. But the blessed part is that you are not alone, NEVER alone because we are here and so is God. Those emotions are real that you’re experiencing but just as Chris has said, “they too will pass”. Keep talking, sharing, praying, talking, sharing, praying…all of which requires you to open your mouth. The enemy would love for you to shut UP , shut DOWN, and shut OUT. But God’s love COVERS, COMFORTS, and STRENGTHENS! And even though the light switch keeps changing places on the wall, you will find it because it (HE) is on the inside of you. Praying for the peace of God which passes your understanding to EMBRACE you with it’s UNFAILING love!!!

    • http://www.ibelieve.com/devotionals/she-seeks/she-seeks-week-of-october-24.html. Jackie, this is an article by one of P31’s very own writers, Nicki Koziarz. Thought about you!

  14. So many things we could go under about but looking for hidden beauty in the ocean of life WILL help us keep our heads above the water! Thank you for this beautiful devotional!

  15. Dear, Sweet Amy,
    THANK YOU for this beautiful reminder and “refocusing”/perspective shift challenge. SOOO up my ally – and a special God-hug to me today – -not only in the topic and verse, but also in the fact that it is FROM YOU! For today is my birthday – and this just feels like a special, perfect Birthday Card sent straight from the Father to my heart.
    Love you, Lady!

    • Isn’t it awesome how our Father knows us so well & loves to delight our hearts with little things like this?! 🙂

    • Amy Carroll says:

      Happy birthday my dear friend!!!!! I know you’re wading through some murky waters right now, but your faith ALWAYS inspires me. I’m praying for the beautiful to show itself soon! Love you, Amy

  16. *alley!

  17. Thank you for sharing. I can also relate to finding hidden beauty in many places. Blessings! 🙂

  18. Christy Mobley says:

    Amy, let me just say your devotional was beautifully written! So descriptive and enlightening. I loved it!

  19. Jordan Hampton says:

    Amy, thank you for sharing your story. This morning after dropping my boys off at school I found myself in tears asking God to show me something today. I’m a 27 year old divorced single mom of 2 amazing little boys, I have health issues that leave me unemployed and today for some reason after all the goodness, grace, love and triumphs I found myself questioning God “why?” I’ve seen God’s hand working in so many areas of my life and it’s been amazing. The biggest struggle and question now is “will I be alone forever?” Today, after reading this devotional it has once again stretched to not rely on myself, my plans or what I can do but what God wants and can do in my life. Yeah, I can’t see through the murky waters but I know there’s something beautiful beneath… I am excited to see what He has for my little boys and I. Thank you for the encouragement and hope I’ve found once again!

    • One thing that helped me in those out of nowhere moments is to know it’s ok to feel that way. God made our feelings to use…but not to overuse & abuse. I can feel it, work through it, & grow so to move on in my journey. Those days happen & it’s ok. Even better when it’s followed by your last line & a half. 🙂

  20. I am praying for each of you with loss in your life. I lost both parents to cancer within 8 months of each other. My child has been through addictions, my grandchildren have suffered from a bad home life and have been in trouble. Although I’ve been a Christian for many years, I sometimes felt I couldn’t go on any longer. I learned to take each day, sometimes each hour or moment because I couldn’t bear to think about the future. I believe God wants us to rely on Him for more than our daily bread. He was the reason I could get up every day. I literally hung on to God and His word as would a drowning person with a life preserver. He is faithful and He will see you through. As Amy says, every moment we have is precious. He sees your hurt and will help you through the murky water.

  21. Thank you for sharing. I haven’t experienced too much loss in my life…my memaw’s death in 2012 being the closest to home. I can apply your post to other dark valleys in my life. Can’t see the bigger picture as it’s dark…or can’t see the next step…or fighting within myself to take the next step due to not knowing what’s ahead…etc. I do love those moments of clarity though…those that only God can get credit for as it was just for me from my Daddy. I tend to focus on the here-&-now instead of asking the Holy Spirit to zoom my focus out for His perspective. That changes it every time. As the old saying goes, “Hindsight is 20/20.” I definitely can see where God worked in those situations that seemed to consume me while going through them. God’s work is beautiful & I couldn’t match it even with my best effort! 🙂


  22. Very encouraging! Lord please help me and all eyes that reads my comment and those that does no, to allow
    you to be our lens when we are not seeing clearing. You know all things Lord, help us to trust you even when we cannot trace you. In Jesus name AMEN ! ! ! !

  23. Beautiful. Thank you so much for inviting us to look beyond what we see. What a great way to begin the day! Bless you.

  24. Angie this comment is in response to your comment posted today @ 9:28am

    There is a saying that goes as follows, if you think you’re going or have been through something, someone else has or is going through worst. Angie, I feel your hurt and pain. Be encourgaed that there is NO sorrow that heaven cannot cure. Earth has NO SORROW, that heaven cannot cure. Listen Angie, I’ve lost both my parents in 2011 two months shy of each other. My dad succumed to cancer, and my mum politely died in her sleep unexpectedly. Prior to my dad dying, there was hardly if any relationship between he and I. You see he did not father me and left my mum alone when she became pregnant @ age 16. I say that to say this, I am now married to an amazing man and we are proud paprents of two beautiful childred (boy & girl) I have several siblings well on my father’s side of whom right up to today, does not communicate with me at all. For no reason that I know. Listen, my parents have passed, my grandparents passed, no siblings interaction, no aunt, uncle consistent relations. Hardly no family, not even to hold my kids if need be. My point, I too misses my mother, despite the MANY challenges we’ve had, not to mention her being addicted to alcohol prior to death, my living with my mother’s friend, not growing up with my parents, separated from my only brother on my mother’s side for many years, from school to school, sometime from house to house. Listen, this is not the half of it, I now have GOD, my husband, and my two children. One or two friends who may check in from time to time. Simply put, I’ve been tested and tried . . . .My water has been and sometime still is MUSKY ! ! ! ! But GOD has kept me, he has been there for me, he is healing me, and I KNOW he LOVES ME and he loves you Angie as well. Keep living, keep trusting, and GOD will not only heal your breokenness, but will restore your soul forevermore. God Bless ! ! ! !

  25. This was so encouraging for me today. Such great insight for us all to remember to “look for the beautiful” when all we see is ‘murky’ before us. We must remember that God does see the whole ‘beautiful’ picture, when all we see is such a small part. We must ‘think’ Eternal! 🙂
    Thanks and God bless!

  26. Thank you so much for this. This post touched many who are mourning the loss of a dear friend. Thank you!

  27. YM Miller Momma says:

    I’m truly blessed and thankful for Jesus in my life. He’s wonderful and so Alive. How great Our Father Truly is. I love you all at Proverbs 31 and what you’ve done and do for us all. God bless your Glorious Saturday.

  28. Very timely, so full of truth.

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