December is just dark. A dark month but full of festive lights. It’s the holiday season and I’ve felt so many mixed emotions, ups and downs. Part of those feelings is gratitude with a side of confusion. A year ago I was in a much different place with so many unknowns — do I have cancer and how am I going to get through this? This year I was able to run, exercise, work and serve my community. But through it all I felt an emptiness that I just couldn’t shake.

The lack of sunlight mixed with cold is tough for any person, but for me specifically the absence of sun makes me feel like I’m wilting. I feel like my prayer has been, “Lord, how do I find you and lean into gratitude in the midst of the darkness?”

This time of year is so beautiful to reflect. We celebrate Jesus’ first coming through is birth but it’s also a time to praise God for His faithfulness throughout the year while acknowledging the many disappointments that also occurred. To behold both during a dark time can be difficult and it’s been a challenge to graciously find that balance. The hardest part is to have hope that something better is coming.

In all honestly, lately I’ve felt like giving up. I’m running on fumes continuing to be faithful, continuing to be optimistic, and trying to have hope. But I’m learning that in those moments where we feel depleted, that’s where God shows up in those small beautiful ways, but we have to choose to see it.

“You, Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light.”

Psalms 18:28 NIV

To be optimistic in this time is to let gratitude be the fuel that keeps my lamp burning. Although difficult, sometimes we literally have to be the light in the darkness. It’s not an easy task, but God is the one who wills our lamps to continue to burn but only for a short time while we wait for better days to come. Perhaps the hope of advent is knowing that in the midst of darkness, we await the light to come again. Therefore figuratively and literally I will wait for light and have hope because I know that it is coming.

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