Christmas Lights: Finding Hope in the Darkness
For some of us, the idea of celebrating Christmas this year feels easy and exciting. Perhaps you can’t wait to pull all of the decorations out of your attic and sing Christmas carols that match the mood of the season. For others of us, the holiday season feels far from the most wonderful time of the year.
Like most people, I’ve lived through seasons of both. As a single woman in my late-twenties, Christmas often felt like a big reminder that I was spending yet another holiday season alone. The weight of this unmet expectation stung in a very acute way around the holidays.
After I got married, my husband and I struggled with infertility for two consecutive Christmases. The second Christmas in particular felt especially hard. Surgery and multiple rounds of treatment had failed to produce the results we had desperately hoped for. While countless friends announced pregnancies and shared happy family Christmas card photos, my heart hurt.
Then came the year my husband and I sat across the table from a specialist who shared our son’s difficult brain MRI and diagnosis with us a few days before Christmas. I remember walking into a store the next day and having to turn around and leave. The festive displays and music were too much for my heart to bear.
When I Hang Christmas Lights
Nothing reminds me that Christmas is more than sentimental, Hallmark moments than hard, heavy things. These hard things make the rest feel shallow and empty. Maybe Christmas feels broken to you too this year. Perhaps a divorce, the loss of a family member, loneliness, or another one of the countless ways our world is not the way it should be has it feeling extra hard.
Years ago, Dave shared an Advent sermon that has stayed with me through the ups and downs of every holiday season since. In it he says,
“So hang some Christmas lights up and let those lights shining in the darkness be a sign. Not a sign of tradition or a sign of better years gone by. Not a sign of family, or of memories, or of nostalgia. Because the more we think Christmas is about family in that way or nostalgia or tradition, the more it will eventually bring us grief and sadness. The loss of family is unavoidable in this dark world. Pretty soon, all our realities will be replaced by memories and nostalgia.
Don’t put Christmas lights up for that…When you get out your lights, let it be a sign to you that, no matter how great your darkness is, God has not abandoned you to the darkness.”
I wonder how many of us need to be reminded that an eternal light didn’t just come once but is coming in even greater glory again. Darkness will not have the final word. Someday when he returns, night will be no more. (Revelation 22:5)
Activity: Christmas Lights and the Light of the World
So, we hang Christmas lights as a tangible reminder of Jesus, the Light of the World. The God who came to be with us and rescue us from our darkness, our brokenness, and our pain.
Each night I’ve pulled into the driveway to our lit-up house, I’ve felt a deep sense of comfort as I remember to believe this truth about what Christmas is actually all about.
And our family does not only hang up our own Christmas lights, we drive around town to enjoy the displays of others. As we’ve done so, we’ve tried to be intentional about connecting the dots between what we are enjoying to what the lights ultimately point to.
Get even more joy and significance out of Christmas lights this year with this simple devotional activity. Use the free pdf below for a time of personal reflection or discuss it with family and friends.
Looking for more ways to celebrate this Christmas?
Visit ColumbiaChristma.com for Christmas Eve service details, blog posts, and downloads to help make this season meaningful.