I’m usually an optimistic person, but lately it’s become more and more difficult for me to muster any level of optimism as I read the newspaper or watch the evening news. Even my Facebook and Twitter feeds are not immune to the avalanche of bad news. Headlines and links are posted as the events occur—the worse the news, the quicker the post. Frankly, it can just plain wear me down.
But no matter how dark our world becomes, regardless of the crisis—political, economic, or natural disaster—hope glimmers and grows at Christmas. In fact, our gloomy world seems to glow the whole month of December.
The rest of the year the world is a dark place, and getting darker each day. Hopelessness feeds on current events, broken relationships, and pervasive immorality. But this isn’t a new phenomenon. Prior to the birth of Christ, the world had sunk into the darkness of despair. Immorality and idolatry infiltrated almost every area of civilization. Even in Israel, the religious leaders had made an idol of their rituals, substituting unrelenting legalism for a relationship with the true God.
“Then, over the skies of Bethlehem, angels broke through the darkness of their hopelessness and bathed a group of shepherds in a great light. A heavenly host praised God and proclaimed hope: ‘Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord'” (Luke 2:10-11 NIV).
The angels’ message declared the arrival of God’s Son, the One who would identify Himself as the Light of the World. God had not forgotten His people. In the fullness of time He broke into our dark world and shone the light of hope and restoration.
“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 NIV).
So as I decorate my house with Christmas lights, I’m reminded there is no darkness that cannot be dispelled by the light of God’s presence. As I sing familiar Christmas carols, I remember that the Light of the World was heralded by angels. And as I decorate my Christmas tree, I welcome the assurance that even the darkest sin was paid for when God’s Son hung on a different kind of tree.
This Christmas, step into the Light…and bring the children in your life with you.