“Why are there no lights out?”
It’s early December and I was pouting to my brother how everything is as Christmas-sy as it should be except the new city mayor decided not to waste money on lights and decors this year.
A few days after that, we were on the drive home when he complained about how everyone had their headlights on full bright because it was so dark outside. I put my head out the window, strained to see, to catch even a glimpse of light, but there was none. No street lamps, no stars, no moon. Just the blackest night.
Christmas was supposed to be full of cheer and luster and sparkles spilling, so why did there seem to be no light in sight?
News recently broke over Aleppo, the 4-year war reaching its pinnacle and I sat there in the lunch table, everyone laughing and talking as my eyes were glued to my phone, pictures of people dying, my fingers scrolling, scrolling hoping to find something that will help make sense of everything. Christmas banners were hanging over us and I can’t stop thinking of how the civilians were made into chess pieces, clinging on to freedom banners, desperate for a sense of hope.
Hope. How to have hope when hope has failed you before?
I lie in the middle of the dark, masking the pain of broken plans and expectations as I stare at my journal, wondering what happened to God promising that this year will be far better than the last. I ache, wonder, ponder, the same way I broke down in the arms of a friend for the first time this year mere days before, letting the dam crack just a tiny bit in her compassion as I admit that I was so tired of waiting and hoping. I was never the hopeful sort in the first place because of my tendency to be very realistic.
And yet, still, I can’t seem to snuff out hope.
For there, in the middle of the mess and my so-called realism, a small sliver of light started fighting its way through my broken heart and I couldn’t do anything to force it back down.
Then I’m reminded that Christmas is not about everything being light and bright. It’s about that one star hovering over the manger, steady for those who have eyes to see. I recall how myrrh, the third gift of the wise men, is most commonly used for embalming – myrrh was presented to baby Jesus as the foreboding of His death. And that act in and of itself appears brooding and gloomy but it tells me one thing: Christmas isn’t about simply His coming, it’s about His coming to die that we might see that still, small light.
For right there, from the darkness of the womb, He emerged to the light of life. 33 years later, from the darkness of the tomb, He emerged to give us the light of eternal life.
This is the God who, from the very beginning, spoke out against the dark…
“Let there be light.”
Christmas reminds us that from darkness emerges light, always. Christmas reminds us that darkness will never overcome light. Christmas reminds us that even if the promise takes 4,000 years coming, it is still coming.
Here is a God who chose to come in the middle of a genocide, as a refugee, as a carpenter’s son. Here is a God who chose to die through the worst form of torture, lawful justice withheld from Him. Here is a God who not only knows our suffering but has been through world’s suffering.
Here is our God.
We can still hope because we know Who we’re hoping on.
Two days ago, my friends and I were walking to the park late in the evening to have a picnic when there, I saw.
Thousands of lights up along the streets and up in the sky. Shimmering, gleaming, radiant against the dark.
I breathed out against the chill.
Darkness couldn’t do anything to light because darkness is simply the absence of light. Fire up a small candle, put on a small bulb, and darkness has nothing on light. In fact, it is in the darkest darkness that light would be seen brightest.
The pits of failure, depression, anxiety, fear, and shame are real and they plunge murky and deep, but His love is real-er and it plunges so much deeper. His light will always chase you down. His power is made perfect in your weakness.
The Bright, The Star, The True Light is always here with us, glowing, burning deep within our hearts, iIlluminating the dark.
Hope, against all hope.
“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned…
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
Isaiah 9:2, 6