It was nearly pitch black — despite being past nine o’clock in the morning — as I drove the long highway into town for a dentist appointment. Only the beam of my headlights allowed me to see the next few feet in front of me. There weren’t even any street lights to light the way.
During the deepest part of winter in the interior of Alaska, the sun doesn’t peek above the horizon until nearly noon. Even then, it swiftly runs back into hiding just a couple of hours later. This near-constant darkness is disorienting at first, but it’s amazing how quickly it becomes normal. Many people head to work or school in the dark and return home without ever having seen the light of day.
That day, as I drove to town in the blustery blackness, I was unaware of just how accustomed to the lack of sunlight I had become. I fully expected to drive home in that same darkness, so when I climbed back into the car, I was not looking for the light. But as I pulled onto the highway, I was suddenly stunned by the beautiful scene surrounding me. Sprawling fields stretched on for miles under a blanket of freshly fallen snow, glistening in the light. Majestic mountain peaks towered in the distance, painted in pastel pinks and blues, all lit up golden by the morning sun. Suddenly, I could see!
Like a long winter, the darkness of the world we live in can wear on our souls and obscure our vision. We grow discouraged by endless responsibilities and setbacks, by sin and sadness and a world that seems to be growing darker by the day. We keep marching onward, of course. But, because we’ve been living under a cloud of darkness for so long, eventually we start to forget that a future filled with joy and light is not only possible but promised. We wonder, Is something better really coming?
When you’ve been living in darkness, the light is a miracle. My spirit soared on that drive home as unexpected rays shone down on my face and illuminated the world around me. It reminded me that the sun does, in fact, still exist! It was a declaration to my weary heart that summer will come and, when it does, everyone who lives in places like Alaska where the winter feels a little too long will breathe a collective, soul-deep sigh of relief and race joyfully out to soak up every bit of sunshine they can.
In summer, God mercifully sends an extra dose of sunlight to Alaska to contrast with the months of darkness — we will have sunlight nearly twenty-four hours a day! There will be midnight baseball games and tee time at two in the morning. We’ll enjoy wild blueberries ripe for the picking, salmon rushes, and kids staying up way past their bedtimes to play outside with friends. The sun will be the star of the show and, after trudging through life without it, it’ll feel like all we need. Even spectacular things, such as fireworks, will lose their allure and be stored away for darker months.
No other light can hold a candle to the sun. No other light but Jesus, that is.
The Bible promises that, because of Jesus, a brighter day is coming for us — a day so bright that we won’t even need the sun anymore!
“The sun will no more be your light by day,
nor will the brightness of the moon shine on you,
for the Lord will be your everlasting light,
and your God will be your glory.
Your sun will never set again,
and your moon will wane no more;
the Lord will be your everlasting light,
and your days of sorrow will end.”
Isaiah tells us that on that day, in the presence of the light of the Lord, we will finally be able to see, and our hearts will swell with joy! Malachi, too, echoes this promise:
“But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with
healing in its rays. And you will go out and frolic like well-fed calves.”
There is an ache we all feel as we lumber on through a world where it feels like the darkness of sin and death has gone on too long. We long for the light of heaven — and it is coming! More surely than the rising of the sun, one day soon you and I will breathe an enormous, eternal sigh of relief as the weight we’ve been carrying our whole lives falls away. We will run like children (or baby cows!) into the joys the Lord has planned for us since the beginning of time. We will bask in the brightness and warmth of Jesus who will be the only light we need — and the night will be no more.
For now, the darkness that surrounds us is pervasive. Still, we also know it is temporary. With the glorious hope of endless day secured for us by the God who always keeps his promises, we need not succumb to despair. Instead, let us hold onto hope and live as children of the light as we wait just a little while longer for the coming of the dawn.
“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.”