BY MICHELLE WILLIAMS, GRACE ATTENDER & BLOGGER
I’m always amazed at how much brighter the stars appear when I’m on vacation—usually away from the ambient light of a city. They actually seem to multiply when you’re in a really secluded, totally dark location. All those extra stars are always there, but they’re not as visible in the areas where the artificial light is more abundant.
With the exception of stargazing, darkness usually isn’t regarded as a desirable thing. To many of us, darkness carries a connotation of brokenness. Suffering in fear, despair and grief can feel like being engulfed in an overwhelming darkness. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…” Many of us have been to that valley. Many of us are still in it.
We don’t have a lot of background on the shepherds who went in search of the new baby Jesus. But we do know that it was night when they got the word. Perhaps there’s a deeper meaning in this. Could they have been in that valley? Could they have been fearful of an aggressive Roman army invading their lands? Could they have been filled with anguish when members of their community had been killed or forced into slavery? Could they have been harboring anxiety about making ends meet in conditions of excessive taxation? Could their communities have been facing the kind of displacement that was so common in that time? Could they have been grieving the loss of a child or loved one from the spread of disease only made possible with new roads built by the Roman Empire? I think it’s safe to say those shepherds were likely walking through the valley in one form or another. They were probably enveloped by the darkness on that night.
But in that night, they had a moment with the Lord. A radiant, glorious moment. It was a bright burst of light in the darkness that brought hope with the good news of a Savior. And once they found Jesus, they went back to their flocks in the same place they had come from. Except now they were talking to everyone about how God showed up that night.
Somewhere along the line, I heard someone say that light shines the brightest in the midst of darkness. Having trudged through the valley myself, that idea really struck a chord with me. God’s light has been in my life as long as I can remember—much like the stars that are always there even when you don’t see them. But it wasn’t until I was deep in the dark valley that more of God’s brightly shining stars came out for me. The pieces of God I hadn’t experienced before brought a new comfort and peace in the time I was hit hardest by grief. And although my grief didn’t suddenly vanish, my soul has begun to heal the more I talk to others about the ways God has shown up in my life.
I’ve found myself stargazing a lot more often ever since my walk in the valley. Where I once may have tried to light my own path, I now lean more deeply on the guidance of his stars. The comfort, peace and hope of God’s presence has never lost any of its luster, shining a light into my world that I want to keep my eyes focused on forever.
Need More Hope?
If you are looking for more stories of hope, don't fear, here are a few more from other Grace attenders...
Hope When I Was Hopeless
And, Now I Have Hope
Joy & Peace in the Battle
Anxiety's Lies & Joy's Truths
Give the Gift of Hope & Peace
Are there people in your life who don't know the hope and peace of Jesus? Christmas is the perfect time to invite a friend, neighbor or coworker to experience the love of Jesus. A single invite can be the catalyst to change someone's life forever. Get times and information here.