Hope in the Darkness (Advent Devotion) - Sunday, December 23

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The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death. (Isaiah 9:2 NIV)

A vague sense of emptiness came and went in the days leading to Christmas Day. At times, it was accompanied by moments of loneliness and sadness. I recognized that this was part of my grief in the loss of my dad, a Cree leader in our village, in May that same year. That season was going to be our first Christmas without him, and it would be hard. I decided to go home to Muskrat Dam and spend it with my mom and the rest of my extended family.

One of the thoughts that gave us comfort during this time was knowing that our dad had faith in God and in His Son, Jesus, who saves. He also strongly believed there was life after death because of that faith, and he had told us before his death. As we mourned, we also knew he was celebrating Christmas with his Lord in Heaven.

Death comes with such finality. It leaves us reeling and yearning, with a tremendous sense of loss. It shadows us in darkness while we struggle in it. Yet, death is a part of life.

Part of the Good News we celebrate at Christmas is God, through the birth of His Son, Jesus, has not abandoned us in this dark experience of death.  Isaiah 9:2 says, “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death.”   

Although this is a prophecy of the coming of Jesus’ birth, as well as acknowledging the state of spiritual darkness in people without God, it can also speak into the impact of physical death here on earth.  It tells us there is hope because of Jesus. This, then, can give us tremendous hope knowing there is life beyond our physical death. My dad knew this, taught it to myself and my siblings, and shared it with the people of our village who looked up to and respected him.

A few days before Christmas, I sat surrounded by my family. There was a lot of chuckling as we shared our precious memories of Dad. This was only possible because we knew he was with Jesus and that someday we would see him again. Yes, we miss him but he gave us hope by his faith.  What a great comfort that is!

Dear Heavenly Father, we thank you for the hope we have because of You, that death is not final for those who follow You. Help us in the times of pain as we miss our loved ones, especially during the holiday season.  Comfort us and remind us that someday we will see them again.  In the meantime, we ask for strength as we walk through this valley of darkness.  In Jesus' name, Amen.

Linda Martin (Cree), Manitoba, Canada