How can we rejoice when everything around us seems dark?
How can we rejoice when trucks are used as weapons and bulletproof backpacks are a thing?
How can we rejoice in the midst of hate—when our country is at odds, and lines are drawn?
How can we rejoice when we watch loved ones suffer, when relationships are strained, when we just can’t get ahead no matter how hard we try?
How can a weary world rejoice?
It’s a strange juxtaposition this time of year, because we clink glasses, we sing of a Savior, we’re merry and bright—but we can feel exhaustion in our bones. We’re longing for the New Year, a fresh start. We want a clean slate for us and our world.
It seems that Advent arrives just in time each year. When the nights are dark and long, and our souls feel heavy with the weight of the world, we’re given a glimpse of hope in Isaiah’s words. In chapter 9, verse 2 he prophesies, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness—on them light has shined.”
We may live in a land of deep darkness, but all is not lost. We may be tired, worn out, overwhelmed by a raging world, but it’s on us that this light has shined, this promise that the world will be made right. And it’s through us that this light beams out to the world.
This is cause to rejoice! We are promised a Wonderful Counselor, a Mighty God, an Everlasting Father, a Prince of Peace. And it’s us who get to spread this news. We get to shine the hope of Christmas all year long. We get to reflect the light that God so graciously pours onto us.
But let’s be honest, sometimes our light doesn’t feel so bright. Sometimes we wish we were shining but instead we feel dimmed. Dimmed by the exhaustion of daily life. Dimmed by the impossible expectations of our culture. Dimmed by the realization that tragedy, hurt, trials, and pain are pervasive and persistent. Yet we know that even amidst the pain and brokenness God’s presence pierces the darkness of this world.
The darkness threatens and intimidates, but we don’t have to be afraid—because in him we have the promise of everlasting peace. In him we’ll see justice and righteousness reign. Rejoice!
We don’t have to be ashamed of our own failings, our own weakness—because in him we have the promise of being made new. In him we know that the light that rests on us today will flow fully and freely in days to come. Rejoice!
Whether you’re flickering, or beaming strong, we need you. We need your light in this world. This is no time to hide away in defeat, despair, of self-deprecation. Shine that light, friend. Tell the world of God’s love, of his healing, of the peace he brings.
Let’s go forward together, as little light-bearers, stretching out like twinkly Christmas lights. Let’s use our voices, our hearts, and our hands to proclaim the hope of a savior, to shine forth the light we’ve seen, and to extend healing to hearts, bodies, souls, and a weary world.