by Abby McDonald

A few years ago, I went through a season where I felt disconnected from God. Even when I did all of the things I thought I should be doing, like pray and spend time in the Word, I didn’t sense his presence in my life the way I used to.

Frustrated, I wondered what I was doing wrong and how to invite his presence into my life again. I didn’t realize he was already right there, wanting me to communicate with him. I searched scripture for examples of other followers who experienced a similar detachment and what their response to it was.

Ever been there? You may feel prompted to take a specific act of faith and are obedient, but then face immediate roadblocks or detours. You pray for revelation or for God to move, but he seems silent and unresponsive. 

No matter how long we’ve called ourselves believers, most of us hit a point in our faith where we face doubt. We might look back at a specific moment we received inspiration and think, “Was that really God at all? Did I miss him somehow?” These questions sent me on a journey to find truth and to uncover the mysterious ways God shows up in the seasons where he seems the most invisible to us.

Here’s what I discovered: If we want to see God in the midst of our struggles, we have to change the way we look for him.

And no, I’m not talking about some magic formula or some wild goose chase. But often, our expectations and the ways we seek God are limited because we live in human bodies defined by our own flesh, desires, and experiences. What if we found him in working in ways didn’t expect? What if he’s already working in our situation, but we are so laser-focused on the result we want, we don’t see it?

When I sought God with an honest heart, he showed me some truths about his presence in our lives, and why we may or may not be seeing him the way we wish:

  1. Getting raw and honest with God brings revelation about who he is.

When I try to ignore what I’m feeling or hide it from God, I get nowhere. I looked at the Psalms of David as was struck by the way he laid his heart bare before God, frustrations, doubts, fears and all. And when he did this, something happened. His openness with the Lord made him realize that no matter how his circumstances changed, God never would.

“But I trust in your unfailing love;
    my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing the Lord’s praise,
    for he has been good to me.” 

Psalm 13:5-6 NIV

  1. God has already given us what we need to live a full, abundant life.

He doesn’t give second-rate gifts. But sometimes I think, “If I could just have…” insert x, y or z, I would be content. I live as though God is withholding something from me instead of enjoying the freedom and power in the Spirit that is already mine. Here’s the truth: all of the promises of God are already ours once we’ve accepted him. Past tense. We are adopted into his family and welcomed at his table. When we live in this truth instead of fighting to receive it, our gait and atmosphere changes.

“For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.” 2 Corinthians 1:20 NIV

These are just a couple of game-changing truths God revealed to me as I wrote my new book, Shift: Changing Our Focus to See the Presence of God. This book changed me as much as I hope it changes and encourages its readers. I realized that I could see God while still waiting for the answer to the prayer, the miracle the breakthrough. 

Even while I still prayed and anticipated his response to certain setbacks in my life, he was there. But often, I overlooked him. And before changing my situation, he wanted me to see him right where I was.

Are you frustrated by an area of your life where you can’t seem to see God move? Whether it’s a deferred dream, an unanswered prayer, or a painful season of life, I get it. I wrote this book for you. And I can promise, God wants to reveal himself to you. But sometimes, we have to adjust our lens and let him change our perspective.

Are you ready?

Abby McDonald is the author of the new book, Shift: Changing Our Focus to See the Presence of God. She is also a blogger, speaker, wife, and mom whose work has been featured on Proverbs 31 Ministries, (in)Courage, Crosswalk, and more. Her passion is to empower women to grow in faith and hope, even when life is messy. She earned a BA in English from the University of South Carolina and teaches writing workshops both online and at conferences each year. Abby lives with her husband, three children, and a mischievous lab pup in the mountains of western Maryland. You can download “The Daughter’s Manifesto” as her free gift to you and connect with her at