The northern half of the world has turned a cold shoulder to the sun’s cheery face and my home state of Michigan is bathed in wintery darkness. We rise to an artificial alarm nearly two hours before it will be light enough to bother opening the curtains. By the time we sit down for dinner, yawns pull from my chest as the stars twinkle overhead far above the thick, gray cloud cover outside.
It’s dark. Even during the day, it’s dark. The sun has tenaciously fought its way through the perpetual west Michigan cloud cover maybe two times since Thanksgiving.
And I’m not only talking about the weather and the sky. It takes five minutes on social media–okay, maybe five seconds–to see how dark the world is. Another friend diagnosed with a serious illness, or mourning the loss of a loved one in an accident, or witnessing the end of a relationship. People I don’t know viciously attacking each other on Twitter over politics or religion or diversity or writing styles. I don’t even bother checking the news. My heart can’t take it most days, not when I see enough of the darkness with my own eyes. So many people hurting and lost and broken. So many things wrong, and no clear way to fix any of it.
I know this is a bleak way to start a blog post talking about Christmas. Usually I’m so caught up in the lights, shopping, baking, and other to-do’s of the season, I don’t think about it. But this year, I feel the darkness pressing around us so much more than usual. Maybe it’s my own exhaustion after a busy fall. Maybe it’s a new decade looming over the horizon. Maybe it’s the state of the world.
But what’s driving me to write this post isn’t a wish to meditate on everything that’s wrong and ugly and broken. It’s to find the light, because that’s what Christmas is all about. We’re not the only ones who’ve walked through dark times, or who’ve faced the bleakness of the world and begged for hope. Read these words written over 2500 years ago by the prophet Isaiah:
“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.
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.”
~ Isaiah 9:2,6
At our darkest moment, light pierces our hopelessness. A baby is born in a manger in Bethlehem, God in human form, laying aside His glory and rights and power to clothe himself in our meager flesh and walk amongst the wretched and poor. Immanuel, God with us.
Because of Jesus’ birth, death, and resurrection, we know the end of the story. Death doesn’t win. Life does. One day we will bathe in the glory of light and the darkness will be banished forever.
But what about now? Here? In the midst of our darkness? Where do we find light? When we accept the gift of salvation, we receive Jesus’ light. It becomes part of us, this gift of hope and an eternity made right with God. But He gives us a job, too–the task of sharing it with others. A kind word to someone who looks downcast. A helping hand for an elderly person. Even giving up that close parking spot to someone else who might need it more.
We can wallow in the darkness. Or we can fight back against it with the light of love and kindness. You know these familiar words from all the Christmas carols–“Peace on Earth, Goodwill toward men.”
It starts with me. And you.
Wherever you are this Christmas season, be it a place of blessing and joy or one of sorrow and darkness, I pray that you will see the light and take heart. Find hope. And then share it with others. The more torches and candles we hold up, the brighter this winter will be.
And on a writerly-business note, I was honored to participate in two more blog interviews this past month. December has been quite a whirlwind!
The first is over at Susan Sleeman’s The Suspense Zone, which is a fantastic reference site for readers of Christian romantic suspense and mystery. Plenty of great book recommendations here! I chatted with Susan about Fatal Flashback and how I became a writer. You can also enter a giveaway for a free copy of my book.
And the second is with Laurie Germaine for The Storyteller Squad, a site created by storytellers to share their love of all things fiction. Laurie asked me some really fun questions, and I loved sharing more about my writing process with her.
Thanks so much for sticking with me in my writing journey this year. I’ll be back next decade (*gasp*) to review 2019 and talk about my 2020 goals. I hope you have a blessed and joyous holiday season, and I’ll see you next year!