"The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone."
Isaiah 9:2 ESV
When God separated the light from darkness, He called it good; good that there is a time of uncertainty, unknowing, unconsciousness rest, and good that there is a time for clarity, security, beauty, and productivity. We handle darkness in small doses as it comes daily, making our bodies slow down, and making our minds rest. The balance of our nights and days feels hopeful—rest will always come after exertion, and daybreak will always come after a long night. We acknowledge daily darkness as good and part of God’s perfect design.
Darkness as a constant reality is a much different experience. Complete, deep darkness is despairing. It’s depressing and vulnerable. It feels hopeless. The enemy can even make it seem like separation from God. When Abraham was promised that his offspring would be the salvation of the world, the generations and almost 2000 years that followed without the Messiah must have felt hopeless and forsaking. Was God going to fulfill His promise? Couldn’t He accomplish His plan sooner to relieve His children from the oppression of darkness? This prophecy from Isaiah surely gave God’s people a new spark and much-needed encouragement, but it was still more than 700 years before these words were fulfilled in the birth of Jesus Christ. The darkness Isaiah describes is palpable, even though the sun still rose daily.
Thankfully, the darkness Israel felt wasn’t without hope. We see the light, gift, promise, and pure hope that Jesus is because of the darkness that preceded Him. We can attribute the great light to God’s sovereignty and faithfulness because there was no other source illuminating the utter darkness. We know Christ’s light because of its contrast to the world’s darkness. Praise God for the darkness and the turmoil that set the stage for this great light on Christmas morning. God’s great design and demonstration of His saving power were perfectly timed.
In our suffering, in our hurt, in our daily burdens, we try to find a solution and think God should follow suit to help us as quickly and painlessly as possible. “If only God would act in this way, then things would be better.” When we are uncomfortable and walking through long-suffering, it is hard to see the testimony God is designing and delivering. When our darkness is overwhelming and our endurance seems to lack, we have hope. We have more assurance of hope than even the first generation who read Isaiah’s words because we are on the other side of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. We have looked upon all that God has done to flood the world’s darkness with perfect light and can see His persistent, unwavering love and power. We have communion with the Holy Spirit of Whom Paul says, “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) We have every hope that Christ was and is and is coming back again.
When we give God the authority over our heartaches, devastations, confusion, and personal darkness and trust His power to bring justice, compassion, and redemption, Christ’s light is unmistakable. Unmistakable to us and everyone around us. This advent season let us be light bearers by sharing what’s true about the pain we carry and the hope that we have. Our families, our neighborhood, and our world will be shown the work of Jesus Christ in our lives and the hope that He brings. Praise God He designed darkness to display His beautiful, powerful light. And praise God He is faithful to His promises. We have hope.