Christmas amidst Tragedy

"In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not over come it" (John 1:4-5).

I have been reflecting on this non-traditional Christmas passage the last few days and spent some time talking through John's Christmas account with my wife and kids last night. These verses seem particularly relevant considering the tragic events of recent days.

- 26 innocent adults and children slaughtered in a school by a deranged madman
- 22 children slashed in a knife attack outside a Chinese school
- Shootings in a mall, a casino, and a hospital
- Just last night a 16-year-old athlete in my daughter's school dropped dead on the football field of cardiac arrest

And on and on and on ...

Evil permeates every facet of our world and as a result death pervades our everyday lives.

My heart has hurt this week as I have thought about the harm that evil instigated on harmless children. Sin and its counterpart Death know no limits in their destructive reach. And in their wake, they leave pain beyond comprehension. The world is a dark, dark place.

Enter the Christmas story.

In the Christmas story, God enters our world (John 1:14). In Jesus, life and light cross the threshold and enter the realm of death and darkness.

While sin is about death and darkness, the gospel is about life and light. And from life and light spring hope, peace, forgiveness, and healing.

Suffering and pain are the natural by-products of a world infected by sin and evil. Our finite attempts to explain the depth of their impact will always fall short. We can't try and soften how sinister the darkness is. But what we can do is point people to the light. Light tends to shine more clearly in the darkness. Life is sweeter in the face of death.

For those who have felt the wrath of the darkness in recent days, Christmas morning - a time when many will awake to celebrate - will be marred by grief, pain, and suffering. And yet there is a bigger story that goes beyond opening gifts and spending time with family and friends. There is a story of life and light. There is the story of a God who does not remain removed from the darkness but enters the darkness in order to provide light and life.

This Christmas I will pause to pray for people I do not even know who are living under the weight of darkness in a way I can't even imagine. I will pray that somehow amidst their tragedy, they will experience the light and life that Jesus brings.  And I will long for that day when darkness has no more power to destroy.

Darkness doesn't win. It can't. The fate of darkness was sealed when the Light entered the world to remove its sting through His own death.  In the meantime, let's pray for those who feel death's temporary grip this holiday season. And let's take a moment to speak life and light into the lives and hearts of those God has placed in our story. 

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