darkness grief

Far From Merry and Bright

2:16 PMHeather

Dark. Dreary. Raging storms. Void of joy. Lacking in peace.

So very far from merry and bright.

That is reality in the world around us. 

Darkness. Suffocating darkness, choking out hope because the merriest time of the year is anything but. While the world seems to celebrate in bright reds and greens, some people are functioning in bleak black and white.

Not unlike an entire generation some two thousand years ago. For centuries, their forefathers had tried (and failed) to serve the God who called them to himself. Exile and captivity as punishment for their wicked and duplicitous ways gave way to hundreds of years of silence. 

Deafening silence. Replacing the stern warnings from prophets who foretold of this fate.

The God of Abraham and Jacob had nothing to say. 

Suddenly, the people were ready to listen. Eager and straining to know that the heavens wouldn't be shut to them forever. Because the dark and silent night was becoming unbearable

As so many people feel this today. The heavens seem silent in the circumstances and grief. Pleas and pleading for a word -- for any answer-- is met with utter quiet.

And the soul quakes with the fear of being unseen and unheard.

To everyone shaking with the silence of the dark night surrounding you, let me remind you.

Image courtesy of Unsplash

When the trajectory of mankind was first changed, it went unnoticed. When the heavens parted and the Son of God left his throne to break the silence, all that the earth heard was the innocent cry of a baby. Nothing out of the norm.

Maybe. Just maybe, as you walk through your silent valley, you, too, can't hear the roar of heaven's response because it is not yet apparent. It is veiled in that which seems ordinary.

But that doesn't mean it isn't there. That doesn't mean that in the dark night, a bright star and a host of angels won't break through, in due time, to let you know that God has heard and God has come and God is answering in ways incomprehensible.

Because Jesus entered the dark silence of a nation of former captives, living under an oppressive regime. Jesus entered the everyday and the common, as an everyday and common man himself. In order to fulfill a plan that even his closest disciples would not understand. 

He walked the earth and his deity was revealed. But still, he was misunderstood. He was betrayed and rejected and flogged and nailed to a cross.

At the sixth hour darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour. Mark 15:33

Three hours of darkness over the whole land. 

I've never considered those three hours until this week, when I read this passage and considered the "three hours of darkness over the whole land" in the lives of people around me. When bleak doesn't begin to describe it because hope is nailed to a tree, and it is dying.

The words, "It is finished" ring with such finality that death seems victorious. Because three hours of utter darkness stretch into three days. And all the very hope that you held dear is buried deep in the earth.

Darkness reigns. Darkness seems to win.

Yet hold on, dear one. Hold on.

Because the gospels preaches the truth. The Word of God is the lifeline of living hope for all of humanity. Because in the beginning was the Word and the Word was God and the Word was with God.

Although your life seems to declare that the Word has been silenced and no sound of hope can break through the despair, that's not the final answer.

It is finished doesn't announce the death of any hope. It is finished actually shouts for all of history to know that all that is wrong will be made right. The final breath of the Son of Man ushered in a resounding victory for all of eternity. A hope unfathomable. Inconceivable.

Unseen in the three days of darkness, while hope laid in a grave. If your three hours of darkness have stretched into three days of nothingness, lean in to hear this declaration.

The people living in darkness have seen a great light, on those living in the land of the shadow of death, a light has dawned. Matthew 4:16

As surely as the heavenly hosts shone with great light to the shepherds to announce the birth of the Messiah... as surely as the two men in clothes that gleamed like lightening declared that the Living Savior would not be found among the dead, the heavens will break through and have the final word.

The darkness will not win. The darkness can never win. Because of the pattern of hope that the Scripture declares.

God is the light of the world, and he shows up in the darkest places. If this Christmas is far from merry and bright, listen closely to what feels like silence. Listen and believe that God has the final word.

God always has the final word. God is the Word. The Living Word. No darkness could extinguish his Light. No death could silence him. No sadness can overpower him. No loss or grief or struggle can win over him.

Because as surely as he broke through the hundreds of years of silence through the cry of a baby, he still speaks. As surely as he answers the cries of humanity for salvation, he breaks through the darkness of even death with eternal victory. 

That is the proclamation that Christmas brings. A baby born in order to die. 

Let this truth pierce your darkness. Let it speak to the silence that feels deafening. 

The heavens hear, and they answered your anguish in the form of a Messiah.

In the dark places around us, may we show up.

We, who call ourselves the body of Christ. We must show up. Just as our Savior did. We must break the silence by entering it with those around us.

This is where we shine. This is where we are the city on a hill. This is where we grieve with those who grieve and mourn with those who mourn.

This is where we enter the darkness of others and we love so extravagantly that the world hungers and is fed by the grace, love, and generosity that we show.

This is Christmas. This is what merry and bright actually means.

Leaning in to the darkness of others. Walking in to the quiet and suffering. Just as Jesus did on the night of his birth. 

And we must bring the good news. Dwelling among the hurting. Shining the light of Christ to beat back the wailing and mourning with the reminder of our Victory.

Holding hands. Hugging others. Sitting in the darkness to bring the message of hope. To BE the message of hope.

To be the light of the world. And softly sing of his goodness to answer the cries of others with our comforting presence.

May it be so. 

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