Rescued by the Light of the World
Although Jesus wasn’t actually born on December 25, it is quite appropriate for us to celebrate His miraculous birth right around the time of the Winter Solstice, the darkest, coldest time of the year for most of us in the Northern Hemisphere.
He is, after all, “the Light of the world,” the One who can wrap us up in his warm embrace and rescue us and comfort us in the midst of whatever darkness we might be facing.
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It is not even 6am on Christmas morning and yet it was so unusually bright when I walked into my living room a few moments ago that I literally had to look out the window to see if a car’s headlights or some giant spotlight was the culprit in illuminating my early morning world so much more than usual. Because we don’t have streetlights where we live, I’m used to a pretty dark house when I awake every morning.
But not this morning. This morning, an enormous full moon, surrounded by a faint whisper of clouds, is acting as the greatest nightlight I can ever recall.
And this is what is reminds me of: In Isaiah 8, the prophet describes the mindset of a people who have lost sight of God. Rather than focusing on His holiness, His trustworthiness, His goodness, His history of provision and salvation, this group of people is “calling conspiracy” everything everyone else in their culture “calls conspiracy”; they are fearing what everyone else is fearing (v. 12). They are stumbling, they are falling, they are becoming “ensnared and captured,” Isaiah says (v. 15). Eventually they get the point of being so “distressed and hungry” that they become enraged, look up to heaven, and curse their king and their God (v. 21).
And then this:
“Then they will look toward the earth and see only distress and darkness and fearful gloom, and they will be thrust into utter darkness.” ~Isaiah 8:22
That, to me, is so very sad. I’ve been there myself before, so I know how crappy hopelessness feels. A few years back I had a front row seat to Depression. I know what it’s like to feel so alone, so broken beyond repair, so inadequate, so anxiety-ridden, so afraid and unsure and oppressed by a darkness I didn’t know how to get out of. So immersed in that dark place in my head that I didn’t even know if there was a way out of it.
I am reminded of the characters in C.S. Lewis’ The Silver Chair, when Eustace, Jill, and Puddleglum had been plunged into darkness for so long that they honestly couldn’t even remember if daylight and their King Aslan truly existed…
I can relate: I know what darkness and hopelessness feel like.
But! I also know what this feels like:
“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.” ~Isaiah 9:2
As the old Christmas hymn says, “A thrill of hope/The weary world rejoices/For yonder breaks/A new and glorious morn.”
We the world’s inhabitants long for something to come and set us right. We ache for a time we’ve never yet experienced and yet somehow know in our souls that it is real and on its way.
And Isaiah tells us that God stepped in, guys. In the context of the world being “thrust into utter darkness,” our Messiah, our Promised Deliverer came.
He heard the cries of His people, He felt compassion on them, and He stepped in to bring them (us!) Hope and Life and Light again. Even though most of His kids had willfully chosen to ignore Him, chosen to follow another way, chosen to believe lies instead of His truth, chosen to curse Him rather than beg Him for help and guidance.
He came to them.
He “enlarged their nation and increased their joy” (Isaiah 9:3). He “shattered the yoke that burdened them” (9:4) and He righted the world so much that even warriors and their garments were no longer necessary (9:5).
Right there in the midst of describing a people in deep darkness and hopelessness: Isaiah proclaims Light. And joy. And shattered burdens. And an oppressor-less society. Isaiah foretells of Jesus Himself:
“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. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end… the zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.” ~Isaiah 9:6-7
So right there in the midst of one of the world’s darkest, coldest seasons of existence (perhaps you can relate?), Jesus showed up.
“While we were yet sinners,” Christ came, says Romans 5:8.
When the world was so very dark, while even God’s chosen people had lost hope, had cursed God, and could “see only distress and darkness and fearful gloom” (Isaiah 8:22)… the Savior of it all came.
The God who had been in existence from eternity and will exist throughout eternity; the One who created the world, invented the sun and the moon and the stars and all the planets; the One who knit me together in my mother’s womb; the same One who knit my children together in my own womb; the One who provides us with air to breathe and food to eat and friendships to enjoy… He found a way to put skin on and join us here for a little while and bring us hope and give us a glimpse into His kingdom. He came to grab our hands and lead us out of darkness right into a Light so bright we’ll never be able to wrap our minds or hearts totally around it.
He came and He showed us a way out. He came and brought Hope again. Even to me.
“Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till He appeared
And the soul felt its worth.”
Thank You, Lord, for showing me how much You love me by stepping into my life. Thank You for reaching in and rescuing me when I barely had the strength to even mutter a faint moan of “Please help me.” Thank You for hearing the cry of my heart and stepping into my darkness and becoming Light itself for me. Thank You for bringing me warmth and comfort even in the darkest “Winter Solstice” of my own soul.
Thank You for Christmas, Lord.
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What about you?
What Bible passages, stories, books, or songs resonated with You this Christmas season? In what ways has God brought light, shattered burdens, or brought hope in your life?
Please feel free to share your comments or your own journey in the comment section below.
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