He stumbled over obstacles he didn’t know existed. In the dark. A sharp corner caught his shin, doubling him over. As he stepped over unknown things, depth perception deceived him. In the dark. He tried reaching out a hand to stabilize, to balance, to find something familiar to get his bearings. But he found himself alone. He could not grab ahold of anything of substance. Still, he gingerly felt for the traps as shadows teased him and shifted. In the dark.
Confused and in want of words to explain. In the dark. She couldn’t hear what was true and what was real. So many voices, too many options. She thought she believed in an objective reality until she finally woke up to the mess and the absolute contradictions she couldn’t escape. In the dark. She explored other answers, and longed for resolution. But the search rendered useless, and she found herself unexpectedly heartbroken. She thought she could see. In the dark. But she found herself alone. She didn’t know anything that lasted. Afraid more than ever to trust any promise. In the dark.
They wandered from hope to hope in desperate need of a strong leader’s wisdom. But every decision they made as a people drove them closer to the destruction of their own kind. Friendships shaded by jealousy. Causes colored by power-grabs. Comfort turned into fear. In the dark. They once saw a light, perhaps. But everything shiny could also easily distract their focus. God to god. Angel to demon. Blessing to unquenchable desire. In the dark. It was too quiet. It was too soothing. It was too much of nothing for a wandering nation in the dark.
“The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
a light has dawned” (Isa 9:2).
But what else would a great and mighty God do than show himself in the dark, and dawn a great light for those living in a life of darkness? Of course, he would come to conquer the black midnight. To shine love, and hope, and comfort. To dispel the darkness that entraps eyes, and ears, and hopes, and dreams, and truth, and faith. Of course, he would appear in mighty wonders acting for the salvation of his people. Of course, he would move oceans aside so they could see dry ground and conquer enemy nations so they could see his victory. He breaks blinded hearts so they will worship only him. They would see their mighty God light up the dark.
Of course, he should shine his truth on our failing, and repair our weakness.
Of course. What else should a mighty God do than appear boldly to all people, and make his salvation incredibly clear and visible to those trapped in the darkness? Of course, he should come, to solve the endless fighting, and heal the dying souls, to warm the sad cold hearts, to enlighten the confused conversation, to give us rest for a job well done. Of course, he should shine his truth on our failing, and repair our weakness. He should cast aside the false gods that silently imitate and steal us away. He should blaze brightly as our mighty God, in the middle of darkness, so that we can see we are his people.
So what does he do, this mighty God, in the darkness?
“For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)
Isaiah says a child will be born, and he was. Set ablaze by a common star, no brighter nor spectacular than the rest. This star was small and weak, hidden in the black cloudy sky, but pointed to a baby. A baby who came fragile and needy, with diapers and spit-up. Nothing appeared unusually great and mighty, in that darkness.
But they say he will be called mighty. He is named the great light that he is. Even if no one recognizes that he is the light, he is still the mighty God made flesh. His name reveals what the gloom tries to hide. The light has come, masked in the ordinary. He is the mighty one with us, even now, in this darkness.
This son of God, flesh and bone baby, born of Mary, lived and died in the darkness. He mightily healed and guided, and he gasped and bled. He mightily spoke and loved, and he suffered alone in torture. This mighty one walked blamelessly in the light of God the Father and put on your darkness as if it was his own. And this mighty one rose up from the dead on the third day. He broke the sin’s curse of death. He is truly mighty because the darkness has no power.
But what is he doing, this mighty God, right now, in my darkness?
What is he doing, when proverbial mountains crumble and tangible pandemics isolate? What is he doing, when death still steals and love still dies. What is he doing, when the empty surrounds me and I can’t stop falling? What is he doing today, this mighty God, in my darkness?
What would a mighty God do? What should a mighty God do? The darkness is long, and it’s too easy to forget that the mighty God has done everything already for us. “To us a child is born, to us a son is given.” He assumed the weakest form to do his greatest work. He touched our dirt, and defeated all darkness in which we struggle. He collects our broken spirits, beaten bodies, and wearied souls. He breathes his light on you: a promised word, a finished reality, the free gift of eternal life won by the mighty Christmas child. He is our mighty God, even as we wait to finally see the final fruition of what we have already heard. For us, in the darkness.