Week 4: The Light of Joy
Light is sweet, and it is pleasant for the eyes to see the sun.
Ecclesiastes 11:7 (ESV)
As I walked along the dry-stone wall, the last rays of sunlight gasped a final breath before disappearing behind the scenic peak in the distance. It wasn’t even four pm yet, but the sun was setting as I hustled down the path to pick up my son from primary school. Our years in Yorkshire, England were a wonderful adventure, but I always dreaded the winter darkness that accompanied living so far north.
In the summer, the sunlight was long and luxurious, arriving well before we were awake (thank you, blackout blinds) and setting in an expansive twilight that lasted late into the evening. But in the winter, the light rapidly faded. It would be pitch dark by the time we got home from school, and we wouldn’t see the sun until almost nine the following morning.
During the cold blackness of winter, it’s easy for me to slide into depression. Each December we lived in Yorkshire, I’d count down the days until winter solstice and silently rejoice when the days began lengthening. But while I was waiting for the joy that I knew the sunlight would bring, I found reprieve in an unexpected place.
Every American family stationed at our base received a light box, with full-spectrum lighting. It wasn’t the sun. But when we used the light each morning during breakfast, our bodies responded as though we were receiving extra sunlight.
The nation of Israel spent years waiting in darkness, longing for the light of the promise to be fulfilled (Isaiah 9:2-3). But when it arrived, many of them missed it. They expected a light that would burst on the scene in a radiant blaze of glory – instead, they received a small candle, flickering in a stable.
Sometimes, joy arrives in obvious ways – in the laughter of children, in the time spent with loved ones, in worshiping together, in generously giving to others. This joy is brilliant and bold, filling us with warmth and light. Yet often, joy also shows up in subtle ways we least expect. This Christmas season, as we celebrate the arrival of a Savior whose birth looked nothing like anyone imagined, don’t miss discovering joy in the small, hidden places as well.
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