by Rob Tims
The last 10 days of my life have been a doozy.
I was supposed to travel over the week of Thanksgiving to see grandmothers, in-laws, cousins and the like, but the stomach bug attacked a few of us the night before we were to begin our trip, so we were forced to stay home and have our first Thanksgiving as a nuclear family.
One of my team members, with whom I’ve worked for more than 5 years, turned in a resignation letter. This person is irreplaceable, and that is not an exaggeration.
These are nothing compared to what the New York Times recently called the “fast-moving national reckoning over sexual harassment in the workplace,” a phenomenon that has taken out the likes of Charlie Rose at CBS and Matt Lauer at NBC. Did you see Savannah Guthrie’s shock at the darkness that she didn’t know existed?
Oh, and North Korea put an ICBM 2800 miles into space. Point that thing in the right direction and at the right angle and the US could have a war on its hands.
Darkness. Everywhere there is darkness.
The Bible knows something about darkness. God’s people have always … ALWAYS … experienced darkness.
Consider Isaiah 8. At the end of that chapter, we see the Israelites crushed under famine, not to mention their social and psychological problems, and they’re scattering. They’re looking to intellectuals and spiritualists, trying find an answer to their darkness. The more they look for answers around them, they see more and more darkness.
It’s this context that makes Isaiah 9:1-7 all the more beautiful. “Nevertheless … a light has dawned on those living in the land of darkness” (vv. 1-2, CSB).
This light was not ginned up by men, but given to them (v. 6). And it wasn’t an idea, but a baby … God incarnate named Jesus.
Light in the midst of the most horrendous darkness.
The message of Christmas is that the world is a dark place that gets darker and darker to the degree that we think about it and look for our own solutions. The message of Christmas is that unless God has sent his Son into the world … unless God has revealed himself through the Son whom he sent into the world … there is no light for the world.
I love the way Tim Keller put it in a sermon way back in 1990:
If there’s a God, if he sent Jesus Christ into the world to die for us, if he was born as a baby and he died for us, and he rose triumphant over the grave, and he is Pastor of the heavens, and now he is seated at the right hand of God the Father, and he’s ruling all things until he puts everything under his feet, and someday we’re going to rule and reign with him … If that’s true, there’s light and there’s comfort. If that’s not true, there’s no comfort, there’s no light.
So yes … it’s dark out there. Christmas is not a sentimental dismissal of the darkness, but the proclamation that God’s Light shines in it through His Son, Jesus.
Yes, it’s dark. But there is Light.
Rob Tims is husband to Holly and father to Trey, Jono, Abby Jane and Luke. He’s the author of Southern Fried Faith: Confusing Christ and Culture in the Bible Belt, and manages the team behind smallgroup.com at LifeWay Christian Resources in Nashville. He writes regularly at RobTims.com and blogs every Friday at Forward Progress.