“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)
Darkness can be so intimidating. It tries to grip our hearts with fear when we are small children, the terror of the unseen lingering far into adulthood for many.
Whether literal or metaphorical, there is something so unnerving about being unable to see our own way. We do not like the reminder of our weakness and vulnerability. We do not want to be faced with the real presence of evil in the world. We hope it stays distant, but far too often, it catches us off guard and sends us staggering, blindly searching for a way out.
And when the darkness falls—the bad news from the doctor comes, the job is lost, the loved one dies, the betrayal is uncovered—it is easy to feel that this is a powerful force for which we are no match.
Many years ago, I attended a service at Heartland World Ministries, the late Steve Hill’s church in Las Colinas, Texas. Pastor Steve used an illustration to demonstrate the powers of light and darkness that I have never forgotten.
As he described various hurts and hardships people experience, the lights throughout the auditorium were turned off, one by one, until there was complete and utter darkness in the room—no screens lit, no tech equipment blinking. Just pitch black darkness.
For several minutes, Pastor Steve spoke about the pain of discouragement, depression, confusion, and despair. He acknowledged those emotions, their reality and their scars. He candidly spoke about the evil in the world. There was no belittling or shaming, just the raw admission that none of us are exempt from the reach of darkness.
But then, he posed a question: as fearsome as darkness is, do we truly understand the power of light?
And he lit a single candle.
It is hard to even put into words the powerful illumination that came from one single flame in the middle of that vast room. The glow was cast far and wide.
Truth was poignantly demonstrated: the blackest darkness is no match for even the smallest light.
The Light of Hope
Consider these words from the book of John:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God . . . In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. - John 1:1, 4, 5 (NIV, emphasis added)
We tend to overestimate the strength of darkness, especially when our hearts are hurting, but truthfully, light is far more powerful than we often think. And unlike the temporary light of a flickering candle, the light that comes from the hope of Jesus taking on flesh and coming to be with us is eternally unquenchable.
The various ways this verse is translated offer a beautiful picture for us to hold onto in our darkest moments.
Darkness cannot overcome light (NIV). The verb overcome means “to gain the victory, win, conquer.” Darkness is not going to win—not going to conquer or gain a victory over light. It might not feel that way some days; hope might seem elusive. But we have the promise of Emmanuel—God with us. He fights for us, so darkness does not stand a chance!
Darkness cannot extinguish light (NLT). Nothing you will ever face is stronger than the power of hope in you. As a believer, the Spirit of God lives in you and marks you as His own! The enemy can and will try to attack, but as long as you continue to hang on to His promises—even if it seems to be by a thread—the light of truth in you cannot be extinguished.
Darkness cannot comprehend light (NKJV). Try to wrap your mind around this for a moment: darkness does not even understand light. It can’t make sense of it. Light is a powerful force functioning on a completely different level. When you can face the menacing shadows of your circumstances and hold up even the smallest spark of truth, it sends darkness into confusion.
For Those Living in Darkness
Can I encourage you to choose light? You don’t have to feel some enormous surge of faith or burst of joy. You simply need one flame—one promise, one truth, one hope to wrap your heart around.
During this Christmas season, when so many homes and buildings and trees will be trimmed in tiny sparkling lights, pause and drink in the miracle of hope. Not only can the smallest light illuminate darkness, but it is the sharp contrast of the light up against the darkness that creates such an image of beauty.
What seems like ruin or chaos in your life or in the world right now can be turned into something of tremendous beauty when His light comes. This is His promise, even for those who feel they are living in the land of deepest darkness—His light has dawned.
If you are walking in a dark season, grab a journal or notebook. Take a moment to shift your focus. Where are some places you see the light of hope? Begin to make a list and be encouraged.
How could you be light in someone else’s darkness? Who do you know that needs encouragement or hope right now? Sometimes the truth of Emmanuel, God with us, is manifested through us to others who need to know they are not alone.