“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
These are familiar words to me. I’ve heard them read and recited all of my life, and I’ve always associated them with Christmas—for good reason. These words prophesy the birth of Christ.
The passage goes on to say, “For unto us a child is born; unto us a son is given.” It’s a promise of hope for a people looking for deliverance. On an intellectual level, a historical level, I understand this and appreciate its message.
But this verse has become much more personal to me of late because I’m the one who’s been living in the shadows. I have not experienced physical captivity like the Israelites, nor do I suffer from a lack of spiritual hope. My darkness is one of immense grief—the kind and volume of which seems to block out the sun, eclipsing joy.
The past 18 months have brought significant loss—the death of my dad, the heartache of watching a loved one struggle with depression, the loss of a dream, the separation from a community of faith, and the transition to an empty nest.
For these many months, I’ve felt the constant weight of sadness and distress. Though I’ve never doubted God’s presence, I have felt the absence of his peace.
It’s as if I held only a flickering candle when what I yearned for was the steady pulse of a beacon.
I’ve often recalled the passage in Ecclesiastes 3: “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens … a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance….” To my Type A personality, those words always sounded like a tidy little process—a calendar of events that I could pencil in, as if I could control when each occurred and how long each would last.
But that isn’t the case.
Waiting for hope to return—in the quiet, in the dark—is hard.
The good news is, the light does shine again. I have seen it already and see it more fully every day. Finally, it’s starting to break through. My smiles are brighter, my laughter more frequent, and my joy more full.
So this Christmas, I celebrate Isaiah’s long-ago prophecy of hope because it has become real for me in the here and now.
If you are currently in the shadows, don’t give up. The hope of that prophecy isn’t a one-shot deal. It’s eternal—new with every sunrise. Simply be patient and take comfort in the Psalmist’s words:
“Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”