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Christmas Light for Dark Days
Looking at all the lights is one of the favorite things I like to do around Christmas. The first lights, however, now go up long before Thanksgiving, although after Thanksgiving is the generally accepted time.
When I owned my retail outlets there was an unwritten rule that you couldn’t put up your Christmas lights and displays until after Thanksgiving. Now it seems like I’m seeing Christmas starting right after Halloween.
But after Thanksgiving that’s when the lights go up around the home.
But the lights of Christmas are more than merely decorative. They’re symbolic of a far greater light, a light that drives away the darkness. It’s a light for our dark days.
It’s interesting that December 21st is the longest night of the year. And so Christmas comes at the darkest period of time, and in a way Christmas pierces the darkness with its light. Christmas drives away the darkness.
If we go back to the very first Christmas, it too was invaded by light. As the shepherds were out keeping their flocks by night, the angels came and gave quite a dazzling light show as it says the glory of the Lord shone around the shepherds declaring that Jesus, the light of the world, had been born. It was a light show that rocked the shepherd’s world.
In fact, light is found throughout the Bible. It was into the darkness that God called light to shine saying, “Let there be light,” Genesis 1:3. We’re also told that “God is light, in in Him there is no darkness,” 1 John 1:5. And Jesus said, “I am the light of the world,” John 8:12.
Jesus then went on to say,
“I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness.” (John 12:46 NKJV)
And why this is important is that all of us have dark days. You know them; it’s when you don’t want to get out of bed. It’s where you don’t want to face the world because of all that is going on in our lives, or we just think it’s not worth the effort.
Today I’d like to look at what the light of Christmas, Jesus Christ, can do for our dark days. There are four specific areas of this darkness that I’d like to address. They’re what I call part of my dreaded “D” collection. They are the dark days of disappointment, distress, doubt, and depression.
And then I’d like to look at how the light of Christmas, Jesus Christ, get’s us out of these dark days, and what He does to help us during these times.
When I think of these sorts of days, Job comes to mind. Job said,
“When I looked for good, evil came to me; and when I waited for light, then came darkness.” (Job 30:26 NKJV)
Many of have felt the same way. It’s when we’re hoping for one thing but when it didn’t happen we were disappointed.
It’s when we hope for health for ourselves and for our loved ones only to be struck with sickness and disease. It’s when we hope for a raise only to be met with a reduction in hours. It’s where we hope nothing bad happens and then find out our car needs major repair.
When we think about it, life is filled with disappointments. Things don’t always work out as planned. The presents we get for Christmas aren’t always what we are expecting. One boy saw a round package and things he got a basketball only to open it up on Christmas day to find a globe.
Mary must have also experienced some disappointment as well. Here she’s told she would be delivering the Messiah, God’s Son, but then to find out she has to travel 70 miles over rough terrain and then give birth in a stable with all the animals and their smells.
And so, we all go though dark days of disappointment.
2 Dark Days of Distress
This is when we feel overwhelmed, stressed out, stretched to the limit, and frustrated to no end. It’s where you have too much to do and not enough time to do it, nor the energy.
Mary also felt a little distress as well. She’s nine month pregnant and had to ride a donkey from Nazareth to Bethlehem. That’s stress, and then she has the baby alone in a stable. Yes Joseph was with her, but as most women will readily admit that when their husbands are there in the delivery room, they seem to add to the stress.
The prophet Jeremiah, also known as the weeping prophet speaks about the distress of Jerusalem.
“LORD, see my anguish! My heart is broken and my soul despairs, for I have rebelled against you. In the streets the sword kills, and at home there is only death.” (Lamentations 1:20 NLT)
Many of you are in these dark days of distress.
And so, besides being in the dark days of disappointment, you’re also in the dark days of distress.
Jesus said, “The man who walks in the dark does not know where he is going.” (John 12:35c NIV)
This is where we find ourselves drifting with no clear objective or goal.
When you look at your past you get disappointed. When you look at your present you get stressed and are in distressed. And when you look at your future, you’re full of doubt and worries set in.
Will the economy turn around. Will we have a job next month? What will these medical tests reveal? Is this disease terminal? Where am I headed?
These are the dark days of doubt. And once disappointment sets in, bringing distress and doubt, these lead to the last of the dreaded “Ds,” and that is,
These are days when everything just seems to cave in on top of you, and you feel like giving up saying, “What’s the use in trying?”
It’s where the light has gone out. Going back to Jeremiah, he said,
“I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me.” (Lamentations 3:19-20 NIV)
This statement of one’s soul being downcast that we read about in the Bible is nothing less than depression.
Some of you have had a major crisis this past year. Maybe it’s been a divorce, a death of a loved one, a defeat, got laid off, or faced a major illness. In fact, there’s nothing really happy about the holidays; instead it’s more like Elvis Presley’s “Blue Christmas.” It’s where the holidays only increase the pain, not the joy.
It’s kind of like how David felt when he said to the Lord, “You have taken my companions and loved ones from me; the darkness is my closest friend.” (Psalm 88:18 NIV)
Now, I’m not trying to bring anyone down, but the reality is that this is a reality. But the reality is also that God cares. He cares about us because we matter to Him. Our pain matters to Him because He cares for us.
What we should do when we find ourselves in these dark days is not to replay the problems and difficulties over and over again, instead we should be coming to the Lord to get His light for the dark days.
“For You are my lamp, O Lord; the Lord shall enlighten my darkness.” (2 Samuel 22:29 NKJV)
That’s what the Christmas light, Jesus Christ, does. He came to light up our dark days. But how does He do it?
“The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit.” (Psalm 34:18 NKJV)
To those who have a broken heart whose spirit has been crushed over what has happen, the Lord is near. And knowing that brings encouragement, because when we’re going through the problems and trials we don’t think God is near at all, we kind of see Him as way over on the other side of the galaxy.
God encourages us as He’s always with us, even when it doesn’t seem like He is. He says that He will never leave us nor forsake us, Hebrews 13:5.
This is what Christmas is all about, God with us. In fact, that is the title of the Messiah. The prophecy reads,
“‘Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,’ which is translated, ‘God with us.’” (Matthew 1:23 NKJV)
God also encourages us by helping us realize that He’s got a plan and purpose for out lives, that we don’t have to drift aimlessly but that He’s got a grand design in mind for you.
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11 NKJV)
What God does is use the disappointments of life to get our attention. And while we have pain and sorrow, God’s plan and purpose for these disappointments are far greater than the disappointments.
This is why the Apostle Paul could say that God works all things together for good, Romans 8:28.
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13 NKJV)
On our own we are not strong enough nor are we capable of handling these dreaded “Ds,” but Jesus gives us the strength and makes us capable. No matter what comes our way, Jesus will give us the power and strength to not only face our troubles, but overcome them as well.
It’s when things look their darkest, that’s when the light of Christmas, Jesus Christ, comes in and shines the brightest. To the Apostle Paul Jesus said,
“My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9 NKJV)
“I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” (John 8:12 NKJV)
Whatever has got us worried? Whatever has us up and night? Whatever keeps our stomachs churning over and over again, Jesus gives us the light to make it right.
We all have decisions to make in life. But we dare not make them based upon our feelings, because our feelings may lie to us.
Recently I was reading an article on how there is a spirit present in the churches today. It’s the spirit of offence. It’s where Christians get offended at just about anything and everything, and they make their decisions about the church based upon these real or supposed offences. “They didn’t look at me the right way. They didn’t say the right thing. They don’t wear the right close.” They didn’t do this or that, or they did this or that, and we get offended and leave.
And so people today in church are making their decisions based upon their feelings.
Where should we go when we’re faced with decisions? We need to go to the light. And the light is found in God’s word, and the Bible is a reliable guide to base our decisions upon.
“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (Psalm 119:105 NKJV)
God’s word, the Bible, is a reliable guide, and keeps us from stumbling around in the darkness.
God loves you just as you are, and He loves you so much that He doesn’t want you to remain that way. He want’s to change us into the image of His Son, Jesus Christ so we can overcome the darkness of the “Ds.”
“Everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said: ‘Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.’” (Ephesians 5:13-14 NIV)
Paul is saying, quit living in the darkness; turn on the light. Allow Jesus Christ to shine His light into those dark areas of your life that you don’t anyone to see or know about. Allow Jesus to come into your life and these dark areas and change you. Ask Him to shine His light and to let you know where you are coming up short so we can confess our sins, repent of them, and begin that transformational process.
This Christmas you may be feeling a little overwhelmed. Maybe you’re going through one of these dark days of disappointment, distress, doubt, or depression. Maybe all of them combined. The good news, however, is that because of Christmas, because Jesus came, the darkness doesn’t need to be the end. Instead the light of Jesus Christ dispels and drives away the darkness.
When considering the star the wise men saw, there is something that is greatly overlooked. “They followed it.” Now I’m sure there were many other people who saw the same star, but did nothing about it. Even those scribes and Pharisees who heard about it from the wise men, they didn’t go check it out.
It’s one thing to know about the light, it’s another thing to follow it. It’s one thing to know about the path, it’s a wholly different thing to follow it. I guess what I’m getting at is that it all boils down to a choice.
We have a choice to make this Christmas.
Are we going to remain in the dark days? Yes they do exist, but do we remain there? Are we going to choose the darkness or are we going to choose the light? Are we going to have a blue Christmas, or are we going to have a “Fa la la” Christmas.
We make the choice. Are we going to have joy on the most joyous day of the year or whether we’re going to be miserable?
Let me give you this encouragement. Choose joy. Ask the Light of Christmas, ask Jesus Christ to dispel this darkness of despair, and let Him replace it with His joy, with His light.
This is what Christmas is all about, to bring those in darkness into the light of Jesus Christ.
Wednesday Evening Bible Study