The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. —John 1:5
This verse summarizes the Advent season. We are a week away from the shortest day and longest night of the year. Besides the encroaching darkness outside your window, the darkness of world events can make anyone despair. We need to know that there is still light out there, in some form.
I imagine Mary and Joseph needed this reassurance too on this day about 2,000 years ago. They were probably en route to Bethlehem, 70 miles from their home in Nazareth. That meant Mary wouldn’t have family, friends, or midwives around for the upcoming birth as planned. They didn’t have family to stay with in Bethlehem, so they hit the road having no idea where they would sleep each night. As a poor artisan, Joseph didn’t have a lot of spare cash on hand, so what would they do for their meals? It meant they would to have to figure out a source for diapers and a place to wash them. Then there was the danger of the travel itself, with bandits and robbers ready to take advantage of unprotected travelers and some Roman military bent on harassing or abusing the misunderstood Jewish population of the empire.
I wonder what form God sent light to help Mary and Joseph make it through their very stressful time. I like to imagine they benefited from the kindness of various strangers along the way, some providing a meal here or there, some offering them a place to sleep or an extra blanket for Mary, or others offering to carry their load for a time on the road. I imagine when they found a place to stay in Bethlehem and Mary went into labor, some understanding woman brought a local midwife to help and then rallied neighbors to bring meals over the next few days. Of course, all those little pinpricks of light over time didn’t mean the nights were any less cold or dark, but God ensured that the darkness never overcame the light.
For reflection: No matter what darkness you are experiencing now, think back to your last day or several days, looking for points of light. How has God shone a light(s) into your darkness?