"The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone." Isaiah 9:2
This Christmas I spent a lot of time thinking about this painting called "Twilight in the Wilderness" by Frederic Edwin Church. It reminds me of a journey taken through uncharted land - grueling, demanding, exhausting. But then, upon reaching a precipice at just the right time, there is the most breathtaking beauty that breaks through the daunting monotony. The constant struggles with underbrush and sleepless nights fade in that moment, awash with glory.
Jesus came for us who are hurting, for us caught in the far-reaching effects of sin, addiction, and sadness.
He came first to the shepherds. They were, as Pope Francis said, "among the last, the outcast...who were awake, keeping watch in the night, guarding their flocks." God chose them specifically for this extraordinary moment on the precipice, to witness his glory breaking through into our painful struggles. He came first not to kings but to those humble workers who day after day kept watch in the lonely places. Jesus came to seek those who want light more than the darkness they feel they can't escape.
If you, like the shepherds, are awake in the late night alone seeking relief, if because of pain or fear or illness or trauma or caregiving or grief you feel that the light of a Savior is a far-off, flickering flame - remember there is hope in the manger. He is the Light of the World promised to save us, and our future glorious deliverance is sure when we trust him.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.