Friday, December 28, 2012

God’s Light Will Shine through the Pain of a New Year

“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned”
(Isaiah 9:2).

Lights are an important part of holidays, particularly during the Christmas season.  We put lights on Christmas trees and candles in the windows.  We enjoy looking at outdoor light displays.  We light advent candles at church and sing Silent Night by candlelight on Christmas Eve. We may even welcome New Year’s in with fireworks.

God is associated with light throughout Scripture.  His light began the creation of the world. The light of a star led the wise men to Jesus.  The light of angels announced His birth as well as His resurrection.  Jesus called Himself the Light of the world, and this Light has been given to us.

Living with the uncertainty of health struggles or other problems, this coming new year may appear more dark than light.  “Living in the land of the shadow of death” may seem an accurate description for the fear of our unknown future or the grimness of our ongoing battles.  Yet we have seen a great light.  We just celebrated the coming of that light to earth, and the repercussions of that light give us the hope and perseverance to enter another year.

Isaiah wrote these words during bleak times for Israel.  They had endured much suffering and captivity.  In the preceding chapter of Isaiah, he says that people saw only distress and darkness and fearful gloom.  That may be an accurate description of how we see our personal lives as well as the world in general.  But God’s answer to that is the light of Christ’s birth, death, and resurrection.

That light will give us the direction we need to face whatever the new year holds.  There is no darkness of pain or the unknown that God’s light will not reach to offer us hope and guidance.   So light a candle this New Year’s Day and rejoice in knowing that the coming year is already illuminated with the loving light of God’s comforting and eternal presence.

Prayer:  Lord, give me hope as I begin this new year, praising You for the assurance that Your light will guide me through whatever my come.  Amen.


Sunday, December 9, 2012

Seeing Glimpses of God this Christmas

“Do not I fill heaven and earth? declares the Lord.”
 (Jeremiah 23:24).

We all want Christmas to be a joyful, happy time, but that may be difficult.  Pain can dampen our spirits and limit activities.  The self-absorbed mindset of our society tries to rob Christmas of its true meaning long before the month of December.  Finances, relationships, or circumstances can contribute to a less than joyful mindset.  When bombarded by these negative conditions, it is easy to feel not only a loss of joy but even a loss of God’s presence during this special time of year.

I came across a quote from C.S. Lewis that prompted me to look at things differently:  “We may ignore, but we can nowhere evade, the presence of God.  The world is crowded with Him.”  I started looking for signs of God’s presence even through the commercialism and pain, and I found them.

I heard sacred Christmas songs playing throughout the mall and in other secular settings.  People who may speak God’s name only in cursing were proclaiming Him Savior – a foretaste of the day when every knee will bow and every tongue confess that He is Lord.  A major store set up a huge nativity display on a heavily trafficked road in our city.  Although in discomfort, I was able to see God’s handiwork in nature while visiting some spectacular Christmas gardens and to take a walk one night under a gorgeous full moon.

Our world may be crowded with pain, suffering, and materialism, but God is still here.  As I make a conscious effort to see signs of Him during this holiday season, His Spirit revives my joy.  It is not a joy based on how I feel or what I have. It is a joy based on the wonder of an eternal God who visited this earth in human form, whose Spirit now dwells in His people, and who will one day return in glory to reign in that perfect world I so long for now.  So look for Him - if you seek Him you will find Him when you seek Him with all your heart (Jeremiah 29:13).

Prayer:  O Lord, wherever I am and whatever I am experiencing this Christmas season, give me eyes to see glimpses of You.  Amen.