“Faith consists in believing when it is beyond the power of reason to believe.” – Voltaire
Even when the sun shines and the sky is blue, we find ourselves lost in a fog. Our thoughts jumbled. The path lost. We hear voices come from who knows where. Visions jump out of the fog like images of horror. We wander in blindness fearing where are steps could lead – will they lead to light and clarity or will we fatally fall?
Depression is a hazy term for some. Others know it chokes the air right out of you. Moments in the fog can turn into days, and days turn into weeks, months, seasons, and years. Eventually, we find ourselves unable to put one foot in front of the other. We sink to the ground, wishing out head would shut up and quiet down so we could know where to go.
Yet, when the voices and visions overwhelm, and the ominous fatality looms over us like a dark-hooded creature, what do we do?
How can I not lose hope in the fog?
Voices in the Fog
The fog brings out many voices. They seem to come from every direction and sound like a cacophony of chaos. You hear negative, positive, and everything in between. You hear the voices coming from this direction and that direction telling you to walk, run, flee, or stop. There are some days you would rather yell at the voices to stop than deal with the menagerie migraine of loud murmurings.
Moments alone, I have yelled for the voices to shut up. I’ve had to run out of rooms in order to just get them to calm down. I’ve had to close my eyes in order to just calm my mind’s mutterings. But, which voices are negative and which ones are positive? Sometimes the voices make us question and reevaluate our reality. Is what we are going through because of a sin or is this something that will turn out beautiful?
I remember, recently, as I reached out for help through the fog, someone told me, “This is happening because you are off of God’s path. Once you are back on the path, then the depression will go away.” Anything like this is not from God, nor is it good. God does not shame us. He draws us with his love. I know he used this method through Balaam’s ass (Numbers 22:21-39), but those who say these things are an ass.
God does not work like this. When we feel abandoned, he promises to hold us close (Psalm 27:10). He is the source of all hope which leads to an overflow of confident hope (Romans 15:13). His voice is brings sanity, stability, healing, and calls us by the intimacy of belonging (Mark 5:1-34). True friends communicate the compassion of Christ by bringing us to him, rather than shunning us with shame (Luke 5:17-26).
Voices can confuse and wound or clear and heal. Listen to the voices of kindness, of healing, and of light and love. These are voices transformed by the heart of the compassionate Christ. The father of the prodigal son never shamed his son, and neither will Jesus shame you (Luke 15:11-24; Romans 10:11).
Listen for the voices of compassion, love, and healing. Light does not come through shame and shunning. It comes from the love of a savior who’s heart is gentle and lowly wanting to comfort us in the fog.
Visions in the Fog
However, what is worse than the voice in the fog are the visions which frighten us to our already chaotic core. These images seem to rival the imagery out of horror novels and movies. They scare us in the stillness of night, and to speak them out loud, we fear others will lock us up or label us as crazy.
The visions I have seen while in the fog have shaken me awake where I end up on the couch, with all the lights on, and I fall asleep to a noisy television. At time, I have felt a presence of a man in my home. One darkened by sinister shadows with a suicidal smirk. The vision of a social media post stating, “Stephen lost his battle with depression earlier today,” has swarmed my mind like a plague of locust. These visions are vicious as they jump out of the fog snarling at me.
Yet, how do we calm our fears of these visions? The classic passage to turn to is Philippians 4:8. I have groaned when people quote this to me. I want to say, “Can you think fast?” as I want to punch them in the face. Yet, breathing, there is truth in here. I always thought it was to think about God and Jesus, and everything will be happier than a Disney film. But, this verse uses the term “whatever.” This means anything that falls into these categories we can think of and use. Things that remind us of friends, good things, God’s faithfulness, beauty, artwork, anything which brings that glow to our soul qualify to be included in this verse. J.M. Barrie (author of Peter Pan) said, “God gave us memory so that we might have roses in December.”
How do we find beauty in the fog? We put up reminders of memories. I have put up a picture wall of friends who have encouraged me, I put notes, cards, and messages in a place where I can read them to cheer my soul. I have books of artworks which causes my heart to wonder at such beauty. God didn’t mean for us to only think about him, or why would he give us beauty in the world, creativity in our mind, and comfort in our community?
Visions of horror in the fog scare us, shake us, and sever hope from our soul. Yet, when we can grasp a glimpse of beauty, the light can spark splendid healing from the inside out.
Falling in the Fog
But, these things do not always work. There are times the fog is so dense, the voices so loud, the visions so horrifying, we fall to the ground. We feel our screams for help are choked out by the fog. We see the “promises of God,” and we want to rip them out of the Bible to be kindling for our fiery anger. When people come at us with Christian clichés, we want to slap them across the face and say, “So, why didn’t you turn the other cheek?”
I have ripped out pages of Scripture, I have chucked Bibles across the room, and I have lashed out at people who even try to tell me to trust God. I have found myself, like Mary Magdalene in The Chosen, ripping up Scripture and tossing it away. Hope vanished as the fog choked out the last of the light.
When these things happen, I need to realize that there is still hope. I may not be where I want to be now, but I am becoming. Each time I fall in the fog is another opportunity to find every ounce of strength from Christ to see the beautiful again. He promises I can do all things through Him who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13). This is especially true when we fall in the fog.
Even when we fall, the heart of Jesus reaches out to us. If we fight back, we will see that love never gives up, endures all things, and love never, ever, ever fails (I Corinthians 13:7). We will see this love come through others around us, visions from God like a dove leading us away from a cliff, through a soft spoken word, a reminder of his truth, or something simple to make us smile. That is his love helping us stand again.
Jesus in the Fog
Through all of the voices, visions, and fallings, there is one thing we can count on: Jesus. Without him, the fog will always be a place of fear. His heart cries when we find ourselves faithless in the fog. His tears are not of disappointment, but out of the ache of love. He doesn’t want us to stay there. Instead, he call us by name and he redeems us.
In the TV show The Chosen, we see this through the powerful transformation of Mary Magdalene. As she reaches for anything to numb her migraine of murmurings, Jesus stops her hand. Then, as she leaves the tavern he calls her by her name.
The fog is an awful place to be. Ignorant people who dismiss us make it worse. We try to silence the voices, look away from the visions, and keeping our feet from fall is exhausting. Some days we can’t even get through the next minute. Living day to day becomes living moment by moment as we hear the metronome of the clock countdown each second of our day.
Yet, we need to realize Jesus is really with us. He isn’t this savior without understanding. He became man, took a body, and kept it. He understands what it’s like to have voices yelling at him (Luke 4:1-13). He’s had horrifying visions cloud his sight and shake him till his sweat became like blood (Luke 22:41-44). Therefore, his heart does not shame us or shun us, because we find ourselves lost in the fog. Instead, he draws us close. He holds us with intimacy in his heart.
When it seems like we cannot believe in anything, and reason tells us to rip up Scripture tossing it off the cliff, faith tells us to keep going. Faith tells us Jesus is in the fog with us, and he understands. Faith opens our eyes to see beautiful again. Faith causes us to stand in the fog singing “Your promise still stands/ Great is Your faithfulness, faithfulness/ I’m still in Your hands/ This is my confidence/ You’ve never failed me yet.” Do It Again by Elevation Worship
The fog may last a long time. But, we know that we can have faith in the fog, because Jesus is with me each step of the way. His promise still stands. He will rescue me out of the fog like he has done time and time again.
He will do it again.