I’ve been thinking about the way the twinkle lights on the houses on my drive home each night brighten the long winding road. Lights strung over the roof line, across the fence, or along the front porch provide cheerful relief to the dark and gloomy drive. The thirty-seven miles between my office and my house afford me the chance to appreciate the way the light brightens the darkness. I am grateful.

This year has been gloomy for those I love best. Our family has faced devastating losses, overwhelming challenges, and an accumulating weight that is difficult to fathom.

We lost our dad, and two grandparents to the ravages of cancer and time. Our Grandma Vi has slipped away into her own mind. At ninety-five, she is able to recall the distant past but struggles to know who we are. My brother-in-law faced a couple of surgeries. My own cancer diagnosis and treatment shook us to the core, and both my mom and my uncle now face diagnoses that challenge us again.

To be honest, it feels like this year has a dark cloud hanging over it. We have rallied, we have struggled under the weight of grief and loss, and we have trudged through difficult days we never imagined.

As we move toward the holidays there is a lingering sadness. There is also gratitude, appreciation for the beauty of my life, and simple joy. And yet, the sadness remains. Life this year has been very hard.

Advent this year, reminds me that in the very real struggle of our every day lives, there is hope. His name is Jesus. Just as He entered into the world in the humblest of ways, He continues to enter our lives through the broken, the vulnerable, and the loss common to us all.

Sometimes, it feels like I must deny the struggle in order to move forward. Instead, I think if I acknowledge the struggle, the loss, and the grief it might make room for the light.

For us, this year has been extraordinary, but I don’t know a family that hasn’t been challenged over the past twelve months. Change, loss, and grief are inevitable. As you move toward the celebrations this year, consider taking some time to simply name the challenges that this season brings. Acknowledge the backdrop of your holiday and ask God to bring light to where you actually live.

The Christmas story fills my heart with hope. God stepping into our lives, not with the glory He deserves but in humility and vulnerability. He joins us in our actual, ordinary, complicated, and contradictory lives… He comes to us, just as we are. He is the light in the darkness, the promise that we never have to face the trials of living and dying alone. That is something to celebrate!

The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness can never extinguish it. John 1:5 NLT

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