The Light that Darkness Cannot Overcome

Dec 20, 2023

By Annemarie McLean, Liberty Counsel writer

It was December 14, 2023, 11 days before Christmas. Instead of putting on red or green for a Christmas party, I dressed in black for a funeral. Nobody wants to dress for a funeral —ever — but in December most of all. My dear friend and her family were grieving the loss of the patriarch of their close-knit clan, and my only prayer for them that day was for God to pour His peace and presence into each one of their hurting hearts.

But theirs are not the only hearts hurting this time of year. The darkness of grief is not an uncommon silhouette against the ironic backdrop of December. I only need to scroll through my Facebook feed to find “anniversary” posts of friends who have also lost loved ones this month in years past. I can only imagine how the well-known lyrics of “Have a Holly Jolly Christmas” strike a dissonant chord as the dreaded dates in December amplify memories of loss and pain.

And as for the rest of us? As we’re running around with our last-minute to-do lists, our parties, our work obligations, our own crazy, do we even have capacity to stop, slow down, and reach out to hurting humanity around us? Or deeper still, do we even know what to say or do when we ourselves are spent, exhausted, and overwhelmed after being sucked in yet again by the annual frenzy of the season? Let’s be honest, we’re not that unlike the sojourners in Bethlehem who were swallowed up by the chaotic busyness of complying with Caesar’s decree.

It’s here that burdens collide and humanity’s inability to fix itself is laid bare. People carrying the baggage of busyness in one hand and distraction in another do not have the ability to embrace the hurting, lift the low, or console the brokenhearted. They would have to drop the baggage, obviously. But do they — or do we?

It’s into this broken and burdened world, the Hope for All Humanity was born. When Jesus’ first cry pierced the silence of a barn-turned-birthing room and an angel song was heard in the hills, overcrowded and noisy Bethlehem didn’t hear a thing.

And that’s the irony of it all, isn’t it? Salvation’s first song wasn’t sung to the crowds. It was sung into the silence. Into the dark. Into stinky and small spaces most people would not want to go. Revealed to the humble, revealed to the few. And yet available to everyone.

Jesus Illuminates Our Darkened Understanding

John 1:9 says, “The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.” Those 13 words unlock salvation for us all. But first we need to admit that without God, all of us will find ourselves “dwelling in darkness” at some point or another. From black holes of depression to valleys of sorrow darkened by the shadow of death, the human experience can land us in some hardly lit and hopeless places.

And while many might not associate “distraction” with “darkness,” I argue otherwise. Distraction takes our eyes off the prize of eternity; it diverts our attention from that which is purposeful to that which is pointless. People treading the waters of distraction to the point of exhaustion are under threat of drowning in deception, believing that this temporal life and all it affords, is “it.” There’s nothing of eternal value illuminating their crammed, crowded lives.

They are like the preoccupied people in Bethlehem the night of Christ’s birth, overwhelmed by checking items off immediate to-do lists, yet oblivious to the miracle being born, quite literally, in their own backyard. These are the ones “darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them” (Ephesians 4:18).

We Have Seen a Great Light

Seven hundred years before the birth of Christ, the prophet Isaiah predicted the effect Jesus’ incarnation would have on humanity: “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).

In John 8:12, Jesus Christ said of Himself, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” As Emmanuel, God with us (Isaiah 7:14), Jesus didn’t just emanate, shine, or reflect light, He was light: “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all” (I John 1:5). The PURE light of who He is shatters the darkness –– piercing and obliterating it forever.

No matter where we find ourselves today, the rays of the light of His love can reach in and illuminate all the concealed and barely lit places in our hearts. His light breaks the power of every kind of darkness in our lives –– saving us from our sins, healing us from our disease, delivering us from our demons, comforting us in our sorrow, and reconciling us to the Father.

His birth is the “good news of great joy that will be for all the people” (Luke 2:10). Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the indomitable Light born into darkness, is ever shining, and never overcome (John 1:5).


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