Liz Dumain reflects on where true hope can be found.
As I write this, the view from my office window is rapidly disappearing in the freezing fog and rapidly disappearing afternoon dusk: even the lights on the Christmas tree are struggling to penetrate the increasing gloom. Despite the barrage of persuasion that 'it's the most wonderful time of the year', today feels dark and dank to me, even when punctuated briefly by Christmas prettiness, this season of 'dark when you get up and dark when you get home' season is not my favourite time of year!
I wonder if there's more to it than just the winter weather this year too: 2016 has been quite a year. Whatever your political persuasion, it's been a rollercoaster so far: and the ride is not yet over! A constant flow of news about how life is getting worse, people are poorer, expectations are lower, depression rates are rising, and opportunities are decreasing, fuels a general feeling of anxiety: for many, hope is fading.
And yet God promises this is not the case. In Isaiah 9:1-2 He promises His people then, as He promises His people now that this 'time of gloom' will pass, because the people who walk in darkness will see a great light.
Even when we feel we are walking in perpetual darkness there is a great light.
Even when we feel hope might be fading, there is a great light.
Even when we feel hard pressed on every side and in danger of being crushed, there is a great light.
Because of Jesus.
Because 'a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will be upon his shoulders, and he will be called wonderful counsellor, mighty God, everlasting father, prince of peace'.
In these dark times there is light. The wonderful counsellor, who knows us, understands us and supports us. The mighty God, who knew all of this before it happened and is greater and more powerful than anything the darkness might throw at us. The everlasting Father, tender, available, all-knowing, compassionate and full of love. The Prince of Peace, who holds all in His hands and will bring all together.
Through the gloom and fog, whether literal or circumstantial there is light. A light far stronger than the most ambitious Christmas twinkle, lasting longer than a street bulb, unchanging and all powerful. A light that shines into every corner of the gloom, illuminating every corner of fading human hope. A light that tells a greater story - the light that IS the story. The light of hope. Hope that illuminates the next step for the weary, burdened and broken. Hope that whispers in the darkness 'you are loved beyond human imagination, known beyond human relationship, understood beyond human understanding, and made for eternity with your heavenly father'.
It is the most wonderful time of the year - for Jesus, the light of the world, has come.The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.
Assistant Director of Mission
The Church Of England Birmingham
View all Life Files by Liz Dumain