Lights are everywhere this time of year. In Southern California where I live, you’ll see the first lights go up in the early fall as stores start decorating. Then the cities follow by getting theirs up. Finally, as we finish up Thanksgiving leftovers, many of our neighbors are adding Christmas lights to their homes.
Christmas falls just four days after the longest night of the year; so all of this light comes at a good time.
It’s fitting. When we’re in the darkest part of the year, the light of Christmas breaks through.
Light is a major theme in the Bible. In fact, in the stories of Jesus’ birth in the Gospels, we read of a star showing the wise men the way to Jesus. We read of the angels performing a dazzling light show to get the attention of the shepherds, so they could make their way to Jesus.
In fact, Jesus tells us that the reason he came on that first Christmas was to bring light into the world. He says in John 12:46, “I am Light that has come into the world so that all who believe in me won’t have to stay any longer in the dark” (The Message).
Everyone has dark days. We have days when we don’t want to get out of bed and face the world around us. We wonder if life is really worth the effort.
In fact, as joyful as the holiday season can be, it can be particularly dark, too.
- We face dark days of disappointment. We lose a job, a relationship, or our health. Frankly, the holidays just exaggerate the disappointment. The holes in our lives can look a little bit bigger under festive Christmas lights.
- We face dark days of stress. We’re overwhelmed with responsibilities and with little time to complete them all. Our schedule is full. Our wallets are empty. Our bodies are exhausted.And again, the holidays just make it worse. Our schedules get fuller, our wallets get emptier, and our bodies get more worn out.
- We face dark days of doubt. The world around us is full of uncertainties. It’s easy to look at our future and doubt what it holds. We wonder if our job will be around tomorrow. We wonder if our health will hold up.And, once again, the holidays give new intensity to these concerns.
- We face dark days of depression. You feel like your whole world is ready to cave in. Maybe you faced a crisis this year that brought it on and now you wonder, “Does anyone really care?”Feelings of depression are so common during the holidays that we have a term for them: “The Holiday Blues.”
While we all have dark days, Christmas is all about good news. It’s about bringing God’s light to your dark places.
The answer is the light of Christ!
Jesus is the light of the world. He is the only one who can bring real and lasting light into your darkest days–and his light changes everything it touches.
- God encourages you when you’re disappointed. When you’re disappointed, God lets you know he is near. You didn’t get the promotion. You didn’t close the deal. Your engagement went sideways. God says, “I’m here. I’m listening. I’m walking right beside you.” It’s no mere coincidence that when Matthew spoke about Jesus, he referred to Isaiah’s prophecy proclaiming him Immanuel, which means “God with us.” God came to Earth to show us once and for all that he will always be near, no matter what disappointments we face.The Bible tells us, “The Lord is near to those who are discouraged; he saves those who have lost all hope” (Psalm 34:18 GNT).
- God strengthens you when you’re distressed. No matter how many things you’re juggling this holiday season, the Bible boldly tells us, “I can do all this through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13 NIV). On your own, you’ll crumble under the weight of your stress. You really don’t have enough hours in the day to solve your problems or enough money in the bank to buy your way out of them. But with God’s help, you can handle anything you face.
- God guides when you’re doubtful. Don’t know where to turn? Can’t figure out what step to take? Don’t worry. God can show you what to do next. Jesus says, “I am the Light of the world. So if you follow me, you won’t be stumbling through the darkness, for living light will flood your path” (John 8:12 TLB). Don’t make decisions based upon what you feel is right. Make your decisions based on what God says to do. God’s Word is the only reliable guide for your life. Through it, God gives you light for your journey.The Bible says, “Your words are a flashlight to light the path ahead of me and keep me from stumbling” (Psalm 119:105 TLB).
- God offers hope when you’re depressed. God wants to do more than drive away the darkness of depression; he wants to bring light to the despair and hopelessness you feel.
God wants to bring you comfort and freedom.
He sent us Jesus on that very first Christmas so that we can find hope even in the darkness of depression. The Bible tells us, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope” (Romans 15:13 ESV). Does that mean that we’ll never need counseling or mental health care? Absolutely not. God can use the great advances in medicine to help heal you on your journey.
When I think about that very first Christmas, it amazes me to consider that many other people saw the star from the East.
But only the wise men followed the star.
The same is true for us this Christmas. God shines his light on everyone. But we have a choice.
Will we follow his light?