The Longest Night

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)

December 21 is the longest night for the Northern Hemisphere. It is a time when the hours of darkness will exceed the hours of daylight. It is also happens in one of the coldest months of the year; December. It is also right before Christmas, a time to celebrate the birth of Christ. A time of lights and decorations here in the United States. My neighbors each try to outshine each other with lights of many colors; some white, some multi color, some LED, and some traditional incandescent. It is a pleasant surprise to turn the corner into our neighborhood in the dark of evening and be met with the lit up houses, trees and bushes. The lights pierce through the darkness of the night. It is both beautiful and cheerful.

But, before the lights are strung, there is a time of darkness that overtakes the neighborhood. The weather is cooler, the days shorter, the leaves have fallen off of the trees and the flowers are long gone. There is a quiet loneliness that descends upon us, until the lights are put up and the celebrating begins. We wait all year for this moment to light up the neighborhood.

Waiting for the light to come was also something people experienced in Isaiah’s day. They longed for freedom from their oppressors. A time when their anointed Messiah would come and deliver them. Isaiah prophesied this day, when the people would see the light. But would they recognize Him?

The answer is of course, mixed. Some did recognize Jesus entrance as a baby in a manger, namely the wise men and the shepherds. Later, as Jesus began His public ministry, some would choose to follow, while others rejected Him, As John writes in his gospel; “The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.” (John 1: 9-11, NIV).

We read both the passage from Isaiah and from John’s gospel, and we shake our heads in wonder (and in judgment) of the people back in those time periods. We might wonder why they didn’t understand the words the prophet spoke. Why they couldn’t figure it out. We too easily forget that they did not have the perspective we have after the fact of Jesus’ birth nor the New Testament scriptures.

But, maybe the reality is that they did not like the light. It exposed their own darkness. The darkness in their own hearts. A messy house looks tidy, as long as you don’t turn on the lights. The darkness provides cover for those seeking to hide.

Most people prefer the light rather than stumble around in the dark. The dark can be scary because you cannot see where you are going or what dangers lie on your path. I know this all too well as one Christmas, I tried to walk back into my living room in the dark to retrieve an item. I chose not to turn on the lights and I broke my toe on a piece of furniture I did not see in the dark. It was painful.

Sometimes the darkness is not physical at all, but darkness that saddens us. We feel like we lack a guiding light to help us get out of the dark times in our lives. We wait in hope and anticipation of a time when help will come. When we too, will be delivered from darkness. It can feel like the longest night of the year. We don’t recognize the light that has already come into the world. We try to make our way, but fail to look to Jesus for our help. Our darkness seems to overshadow us and blind us to see.

The Bible is referred to as a lamp and a light. It is for a reason. We can lose our perspective, just like those in people in Isaiah or John’s time. But, we have a decided advantage; the entire Bible. We can read the promises and prophesies and see how God accomplished them. We can read the Gospels. We can see the future God has for this world laid out for us the Book of Revelation. Our deliverer has come and we can have confidence that He will return. He promises us a hope and a future.

Although it is bleak now, light has come and is coming to deliver this world once for from the darkness. God comforts us and gives us hope. Let us put our confidence in that. – God Bless – Nancy

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A Christian writer and teacher who loves to encourage and challenge believers in their walk with Christ. I am a graduate of Liberty University and the proud wife of an Air Force veteran and the mom of three grown adults.

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