Hope for Light on Literally the Darkest Day of the Year

December 21 and I have a love-hate relationship. It is the winter solstice in the Northern hemisphere, which means it is the darkest day of the year. I have less than fond feelings about having full-blown darkness come before 5 p.m. I’ve given myself pep talks about how you can run better in the cold, once you get going. But there have been so many evenings I’ve left the office in running shoes and actually felt my shoulders slump in defeat when I took the first step out the door and got swallowed by darkness.

But there’s something I do love about Dec. 21, in spite of itself. It’s the darkest moment of the year, but it’s the place where the axis starts to turn back toward light. And in that glimmer, there’s bright hope for what’s to come one day.

We Feel the Darkness These Days

Maybe now more than ever, as protests happen and the ash still lingers in east Tennessee, Americans are feeling shadows of what it’s like to have darkness reign. But even that doesn’t hold a candle to what it’s like to live in a war zone in Central Asia, the remote mountains of East Asia, or the violence-torn villages of North Africa.

In that glimmer, there’s bright hope for what’s to come one day.

Darkness feels relentless there at times. But it’s there that light breaks brilliantly when hope finds a heart that’s never known it before.

As Scottish missionary John Keith Falconer said, “I have but one candle of life to burn, and I would rather burn it out in a land filled with darkness than in a land flooded with light. He’s not alone in that sentiment.

They’re in It for the December 21sts

Every single day, missionaries ministering in difficult parts of the world are celebrating moments where the axis in their tiny, dark corner of the globe turns a degree away from darkness and toward light. It comes in the form of a neighbor pulling up a chair and asking questions. It comes in the form of an answered prayer for healing that makes someone stop and consider her own beliefs. And it comes, sometimes, in entire families coming to know Christ.

Some of those missionaries have been hiking into villages in the mountains for years with no apparent success, when suddenly light bursts through and the scales fall from someone’s eyes. Some of them have seen darkness fight back so much that they’ve wrestled with sickness, opposition, obstacles, and trouble constantly.

But they wouldn’t trade anything for the moment the first tiny ray of light bursts through in a place where it’s never been before. It’s worthy of celebration.

You Can be a Part

Sometimes when darkness feels like it’s at its heaviest, it’s tempting to want to despair or to believe that the light is growing dim. But it’s not. Our God is at work, and he is coming again.

The juxtaposition of light and darkness right now is palpable. December 21 is the darkest day of the year, yet it is positioned a few short days before we celebrate Christmas, when the light came into the world and overcame the darkness. These few days expose the vivid distinction between light and darkness. With that distinction in mind, here are a couple of ways we can engage in God’s mission in these days:

  1. Consider new ways to share the light you have with others.
    Make a point each day to intentionally remember the people around you in bondage to the darkness. They need to see the Light reflected in your life. And you have the opportunity to share with them about his coming.
  2. Give to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering.
    The missionaries who are living out their “one candle of life” in the world’s darkest corners—you can help them stay there and keep sharing with those who have never heard the name of Jesus. Consider giving sacrificially this Christmas in honor of the One who is the light himself and brought light into our hearts.

Grace Thornton is the author of the book I Don’t Wait Anymore: Letting Go of Expectations and Grasping God’s Adventure for You. She blogs at gracefortheroad.com.