The other day my kids and I were watching some old videos from when the older two were both tiny little bits with adorable little baby babbles. Miles looked at me asked me, “Mommy…when Nora was born did you ever think you were going to have another baby.”
I had to answer him honestly, that I hadn’t. I remember there being a fleeting thought of another baby, but it quickly faded. The time since Nora was born hasn’t always been wonderful. In fact, there have been a lot of dark times. It started with a hard pregnancy, and then a few months afterward, postpartum depression that pulled me down deep. Then came 2016.
In one year, I watched my healthy, active, full of life uncle pass away from cancer less than a year after being diagnosed. Just a few months later one of my grandmas passed away. Then the very next month both my grandma and grandpa on the other side of my family ended up hospitalized on the same day, my grandma from a stroke that has left her bedridden and unable to go home for over 2 years now. My mother had to rush to California to care for them, and hasn’t ever really been able to return home to Arizona. As we debated my flying out as well, our house flooded. A few days later a friend of ours got into a terrible accident while trying to help us fix the water drainage issue that caused the flooding. And then a few days after that, we got the news that another beloved family member was just diagnosed with another life threatening illness. It was like we couldn’t catch our breathe.
Things kept happening in the circle around us…people getting sick or dying, friends walking through the unspeakable pain of losing precious 4-month-old babies, people getting laid off, people we loved struggling with trauma. There were so many funerals that year that I lost count. There were many things that are not my story to tell, but that affected us greatly.
It was dark. I felt myself asking questions of God I’d never had to ask before…never felt I had the right to ask before.
In all this, there was no thought of another baby. In some ways, deep down, it seemed like if we did have another baby we’d only be met with more sickness and loss…just like everything and everyone else around us.
But it was in all that darkness that the light of Christ broke through and shined on us like a beacon of hope. He brought us out of the darkness into a good place, and then He gave us a gift we didn’t know we needed. A gift in the form of a tiny baby.
This afternoon I watched my 3rd baby eat mango in the same corner of my little kitchen as my first two babies sat and ate mango. Two years ago at Christmas, I could never have looked forward and seen the hope and joy that fill my heart today. I could never have foreseen this little joy baby that God gave us when we needed joy the most…when He wanted us to trust that He is good, even when things are dark.
I know that the darkness outside this time of year for many of you is just a reflection of the darkness in your life that you’re struggling with, sinking it, just trying to catch a breathe in.
There’s a quote from The Fellowship of the Ring that resonates with me when I’m in those dark places. Galadriel gifts the star of Eärendil to Frodo and she tells him, “May it be a light to you in dark places, when all other lights go out.”
Each of us will come to a place in our lives, and maybe we’re in it right now, when it will feel like every light has gone out. Sometimes it’s even, or especially, in this Christmas season when all is supposed to be happy and full of hope, but instead it feels as dark as the winter days…as dark as the “bleak midwinter”.
It is into this darkness that another tiny baby named Jesus longs to slip.
The apostle John begins it this way (emphasis mine): “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it…The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.”
Into the darkness of our lives and our hearts, when all other lights have gone out, Jesus is waiting to shine.
Corrie Ten Boom’s sister, Betsy, in one of the darkest places imaginable, said that they must tell others that “there is no pit so deep, that He is not deeper still.”
This Christmas season, I want to encourage you to not let the darkness overwhelm you…to not lose hope. Instead, look to the Light that can break through all of that darkness. The Light that never fades and never gives up. The Light that shines bright even when all other lights have gone out.