Oh my sweet friends. As I sit here tonight, reading the Word by the light of the Christmas tree and a candle flickering before me, my mind cannot seem to wrap itself around this day that is almost here. This Christmas Day, the day of Christ’s birth, and what it all really means.
I’ve read the Christmas story so many times and there are different things that jump out at me each year. Like the bold obedience of Mary and Joseph, the sweetness of Mary pondering everything in her heart, or the humble beginnings of our Savior. But this year, the past few months have brought so many unimaginable stories of loss and heartache, and there is only one part of the story I can keep my mind on: the story of darkness and light.
The world is filled with so much darkness, y’all. So much evil that threatens to overtake any glimmer of good in this life. It seems that just reading the news or social media these days can make your whole body tense as you take in the harsh words and hateful comments directed at anyone with opposing viewpoints. The deaths of so many that have left holes in the hearts of their precious loved ones. Just breathing is a challenge many days for some of those I love. There is darkness.
But this darkness isn’t anything new. Before Jesus came into the world, there were those without hope. Those who felt they couldn’t make it one more day. And those who felt they would never have peace.
But then, Zechariah shared this in Luke 1:78-79:
“Because of God’s tender mercy, the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide us to the path of peace.”
If you feel you are sitting in darkness lately. If you are kneeling in the shadow of death. If you have no idea where to turn. I have good news. Our God is a God of action, and He is moving all the time.
Here are three things we can lean on for hope this Christmas season, even in the midst of dark times…because light is coming:
1. Jesus came “Because of God’s tender mercy.” This just fills my heart with thankfulness because it is a sweet reminder that God does see us and our struggles, y’all. Psalm 116:2 says, “Because he bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath!” Job 34:21 reads, ““For God watches how people live; he sees everything they do.” Sometimes I find myself wondering if He really cares what I’m going through, though. If He is really aware of all the small details of my days and how they are affecting me and those I love. If He is even really hearing my prayers. But, this verse…this reminds me when I begin to doubt, that yes! 100 times yes, He is right there and in His great mercy, sent Jesus for me…for all of us…because He saw and heard so long ago how much His people needed a Savior who would see what they saw and feel what they felt. His tender mercies are never ceasing.
2. “The morning light is about to break upon us.” Oh y’all, the morning light. What a tender mercy. I am not a morning person. Not even a little. And definitely not when it is dark outside still. But on those days when the light streams through the blinds, it does my heart and my head so much good. It’s almost like the day is saying, “Come on, you can do it…” but really, it’s the Lord’s way of reminding us that He is the morning light. Our morning light. And as it (He) breaks upon us, He makes all things new. New day. New words. New actions. New chances to live for Him and not ourselves. New opportunities to speak life instead of death. New everything.
But he doesn’t want us to stop there. It says he came to “give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.” So as that light breaks upon us, we have the responsibility of sharing that light with others. To tell them what He’s done in our lives and give the hope that He offers. Small acts of kindness: a smile, a hug, a compliment, an encouraging word, a Coke from the drive-thru…don’t let the day’s little opportunities pass you by.
3. His light has a purpose: “to guide us to the path of peace.” This part is so interesting because it implies that we can’t find peace without light to guide us. And it’s so true. When I have chosen to dwell in darkness, to make choices that were not in God’s will…I could not find peace. But when I have asked forgiveness for those things and drawn near to the Lord through His word and prayer…I have walked that path to inner peace as He’s taken me under His wing.
There is such a thing, y’all. It’s not always easy to find. Some seasons it takes longer than others. But it is there because of the Lord’s goodness and mercy. It is something nothing and no one in this world can give. In John 14:27, Jesus says, “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.”
I can only imagine the judgment Mary and Joseph had to endure as she began to show her pregnancy, with everyone knowing they had not yet married. Then the long, uncomfortable trip to Bethlehem, only to find they had no place for their baby to be born. I imagine there was fear…and some choice words…as those last days before Jesus birth came to pass. Then the intense labor, in a cold stable, with stinky animals…it must have felt very dark at times.
But then…there was light. The angels glowed with bright light. The star shone above with great light. And the light of the world was born for you, and for me.
God sent his one and only son to rescue us, to save us from our sins, to give us hope, because He knew how much we needed Him. He is the light of the world… for all of us. Merry Christmas, y’all.
“God loved us and sent His son.” 1 John 4:10