This time of year, I like to turn out all the lights in the evening except the ones on the Christmas tree. I sit quietly, letting the soft, white brightness draw me in.
During the day, I can hardly tell if those little lights are turned on—but at night, they completely change the atmosphere.
The darkness of these longest nights of the year serves as a backdrop for the irresistible beauty of light.
Spiritually speaking, that’s exactly what happened when Christ came into our world.
Hundreds of years before the Son of God came to earth in the womb of a young Jewish woman, Isaiah prophesied, “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; a light has dawned on those living in the land of darkness. (Isaiah 9:2)”
What is this light—or rather, who is this light? The Gospel of Matthew quotes Isaiah’s words, explaining that Jesus is their fulfillment.
The apostle John puts Jesus’ words on paper, “I am the light of the world. Anyone who follows me will never walk in the darkness but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)
Have you ever managed walking across a pitch black room without bumping anything?
Years ago, my mom walked through my brother’s bedroom without turning on the light—and stabbed herself in the shin on the metal spike on his cello.
When we try to make our own way through life without the illuminating presence of Christ, we encounter unnecessary injuries.
Walking in darkness means we can’t see. We can’t discern what’s around us, so we guess at our footwork.
This is not a good way to make decisions. It’s dangerous.
Darkness is a picture of the spiritual blindness and confusion from which we suffer before we know Christ.
Once we start following him, light shines on our path. We have clarity for the next step.
However, knowing Jesus doesn’t magically take the darkness out of our lives.
We still encounter the dark of evil in the world—horrible things people do to one another, unthinkable actions which send shock waves through the news and social media every day.
We still experience the darkness of difficult circumstances, such as illness or injury or loss. We’re not immune to sorrow and grief.
We may even encounter darkness in our own souls—despair, unhealthy impulses, voices hissing harmful counsel into our minds.
Darkness can feel overwhelming, but if we have the light of life, we won’t be overcome by it (John 1:5). Even the tiniest candle stub illuminates a whole room.
Here’s the beautiful thing: whatever hardship or negative emotions or evil we may encounter in life, darkness ultimately serves as a backdrop against which we can see the splendor of Christ all the more clearly.
Later in his life, the apostle John reiterates, “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light, and there is absolutely no darkness in him (1 John 1:5).
What kind of darkness are you combating this season?
Are you battling difficult circumstances? Are you overwhelmed by man’s inhumanity to man? Is there darkness in your own soul?
Anyone who follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.
Maybe it’s time to sit quietly in a softly lit room and allow your thoughts to center on Christ.
Jesus, light of life, lamb of God, lion of Judah. Jesus, firm hope, good shepherd, mighty champion.
He doesn’t always take away the darkness—but he shines most brightly in the middle of it.