The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. For those who lived in a land of deep shadows — light! sunbursts of light! — Isaiah 9:2 MSG
This verse is where our story begins. Almost eight centuries before the birth of Jesus, the prophet Isaiah told of His coming. The biggest Christmas gift of all time was announced to people who would not live to see the day of its arrival. They wouldn’t know the Christmas story in their lifetime. But we can know it.
Though this passage will soon tell us about Jesus, first Isaiah tells us about us. He paints the perfect picture of that brilliant moment when our world collides with His wonder; our darkness is pierced by His light. He didn’t come to people who were already spit-shined. He came to those who were buried in darkness, desperate for help, and longing for hope.
Have you been living in the land of deep shadows? I have. I’ve spent long years in that gray and weary country, and sometimes it makes me feel disqualified from Christmas. Most Christmas carols do not talk about daunting shadows or dreary days. They talk sparkle and shimmer. They talk ho-ho-hoing and mistletoeing, and all of that is fine and fun if you’re having a great year. But let’s be honest about the fact that this relentless commercialized happiness is not really what lives at the heart of Christmas.
Christmas is deeper than that. It reaches into darker places.
Jesus didn’t come to cheer us up; He came into the shadowlands we call home to set us free.
He came to untangle us from the despair that wraps itself around our joy and peace and purpose. It seems, then, that hopelessness is the very first qualification for receiving the bright hope of Christmas. Perhaps you are exactly where you need to be to experience the miracle of Advent after all.
Finding Hidden Hope
Today, when the sun goes down, take a candle and a match into a dark room. Sit in the darkness for a few minutes. There in the deep blue evening, consider the difficult things you are facing this Christmas. Now light the candle, and look at the way the room changes. What can you see that you couldn’t see before? How does the flame flicker through the blackness that used to own the room? If you’d like, this would be a good time to start a journal where you can write down the ways you see His light invade your darkness.
As we enter into the deep days of Advent, keep my heart focused on the real story, the only story that really matters. Send Your light to my darkness, like You did on that first Christmas, so that I can see my place in this season. With my praise and thanksgiving, I will crown You Lord of all.
Excerpted with permission from When Holidays Hurt: Finding Hidden Hope Amid Pain And Loss by Bo Stern, copyright Thomas Nelson.
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Tonight, let’s do Bo’s candle exercise and meditate on the Light of the world. Come share with us on our blog what comes to mind when you consider how Jesus changes the darkness in our lives. We would love to hear from you. ~ Laurie McClure, Faith.Full