God Can See in the Dark

If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light
become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.
—Psalm 139:11-12

I can’t see in the dark. It’s a fact of life. I’ve proven it many times, getting up in the night, foolishly believing I can navigate through the house without turning on a light, and then tripping over a sleeping dog, a briefcase left in the middle of the hallway so it couldn’t be forgotten the next morning, or a vacuum cleaner hose someone forgot to put up after cleaning. I’ve literally fallen on my face because I underestimated what an enemy darkness can be.

I can’t see in emotional darkness either. Emotional darkness is a pretty good description of depression. The realities of my world don’t change when depression darkens my vision, but I’m changed because I can’t see what I need to see to navigate through life.

In the darkness, I can’t see the goodness of life. Even when I strain my brain to remember how blessed I am, I don’t see it. I count my blessings but don’t experience them.

In the darkness, I can’t see the love of others. I’m surrounded by very loving family, friends, and coworkers, but when the darkness comes, I don’t feel loved or lovable.

In the darkness, I can’t see any good in myself. I may do good things and continue to do the things I normally do pretty well, but I don’t give myself any credit for it, no recognition of the value of who I am or what I do. Instead, I become my own worst critic, castigating and condemning my every action and every motive behind it. In the darkness, I feel absolutely worthless.

In the darkness, I can’t see God. I don’t claim to have literal visions of God on good days, but I do have a sense of God’s presence and see God’s fingerprints on many circumstances and relationships. When the darkness comes, though, God seems far away and I feel like an abandoned child. Worship becomes a pointless routine and prayer is like calling a disconnected telephone number.

The good news for me and every person who has awakened in the deep darkness of depression is that God can see in the dark. God’s view of me and my life are not changed by the darkness that surrounds me when depression comes.

God sees my worth as his beloved child. His promises that nothing can separate me from his love and that no one can take me out of my Father’s hand are no less true when I can’t see love. Even in the darkness, God loves me with an everlasting love. He sees clearly that I am his creation, his masterpiece, fearfully and wonderfully made.

Even in the darkness, God sees the plans he has for me, the future he wants me to press on toward. I may be blind to any purpose or meaning in my life, but God still sees the big picture of my calling and my hope.

God sees people who care about me and can help me move through the darkness to brighter, better days. I believe God sends those people to me when I need them and keeps knocking at the door of my darkened heart, urging me to let them in. Good friends, skilled doctors, gifted counselors, and faithful family are all around me. I may need the motivational transfusion of some tough love to convince me to let them inside my dark world to help, but God knows they are there. He put them there.

Perhaps most precious to me, God sees the other side of the valley. Depression is one of those deadly dark shadows many of us must travel through. Inside that shadow, the entire world seems darker than night with no stars to guide the journey. But God is bigger than life’s valleys and all the shadows they hold. He knows that life on the other side of depression is ahead and that, amazingly, the darkness can, in time, sharpen my vision to see his work, his love, and his purpose.


O God, I’m stumbling in the darkness. I feel lost in a strange new place. Whisper to me the good news that you see what I can’t see right now. Touch my eyes and open them one day to see again life’s goodness and your glory. Until then, I trust you to keep watch over my life, my worth, and my hope. Amen.

Truth to Affirm

God can see what I can’t see in the darkness of depression.

This post originally appeared in Seeing in the Dark: Biblical Meditations for People Dealing with Depression by Ronald D. Vaughan.

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