It sure does get dark early this time of year in western Kentucky. That has been one of my major adjustments since moving here and finding myself in the Central Standard Time zone once again. A lot of people in this area go to work in the dark and when they get off of work it’s already dark again. Darkness arrives early and it makes the nights seem so very long. I don’t like it. It’s depressing. It messes with my mind. And for a few more days it’s only going to get worse. But there’s the good news, it’s only for a few more days. The winter solstice arrives next week and slowly, but surely, the hours of daylight will lengthen.
It is knowing that the long nights will not last forever that makes them endurable. When you have hope of longer and brighter days to come you can bear the shorter and darker days. That hope sustains you. That hope sees you through.
Such thoughts seem appropriate during the Advent season. This time of year we remember how long ago God’s people longed for the coming of a Savior and how the prophet Isaiah declared that one day things would be different. He wrote, “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the shadow of death a light has dawned.” (9:2) Ironically, it was a great light that led a group of Magi to the one born to be King of the Jews. Later, when Jesus began his teaching ministry he announced “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12) In so many ways Jesus did, in fact, bring light to the world. During Advent we pause to remember how that light made its entrance.
Advent, however, is more than just a time for looking back and remembering. It is also a time for looking ahead. Before Jesus left this world he promised that he would one day return. That has not happened yet but we live with the confidence and assurance that someday it will. That is good news, especially in dark days like these. And here, by dark days, I am not referring to the shortage of daylight. All you have to do is watch or read the news and it becomes obvious that a deep darkness pervades much of the world. Scores of innocent children are murdered while they are at school in Pakistan. Various groups of people suffer regularly from racial injustice. Thousands die each day from hunger and poverty related illnesses. Violence raises its ugly head unrelentingly. Climate change and pollution threaten the lives of millions. Yes, there’s a lot of darkness out there.
The darkness around us will not last forever however. A better day is coming. In fact, there is a time approaching when there will be no more darkness. That is something that we are promised in Revelation 21:25. The one who is the Light of the world will prevail and his kingdom will one day be fully established. In the meantime, followers of Jesus must never forget that he said we, too, are “the light of the world.” (Matthew 5:14) As long as darkness remains in this world we have work to do, we must let our light shine. Until the Second Advent takes place we are charged to do all we can to dispel the darkness around us. I need to be a light for you. You need to be a light for me. We need to be a light to all those around us. It’s what the one born in Bethlehem is counting on us to do. I pray we will not let him down.
(I took the images used above in New Mexico and California.)