In C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, Narnia is a land of perpetual winter, the Long Winter, and Christmas hasn’t come in 100 years. They dwell in the monotony of snow and cold, day after cloudy day (also known as February in the Midwest).
But a change is on the horizon for the land of Narnia as a frozen river begins to flow. The White Witch’s frigid power is weakening. Though still winter, there is hope; something is changing. A glimpse of a warmer future breaks through the frost as Father Christmas finally appears bringing gifts, but more importantly, bringing hope.
A people walking in darkness see a great light. Hope.
In deep darkness, a light dawns. Hope that things will change.
In front of my church, there is an anchor. Given in memory of a former pastor, the anchor is not there merely because our small town is located on Lake Michigan, but because the anchor is an ancient Christian symbol for hope. In rain or shine, the glint of the stainless steel anchor catches the eye and reminds us that our hope is found in Jesus, the anchor of our life.
When faced with any difficult situation, what we need most is hope. Even if our situation does not immediately change, hope changes us. A glimmer of hope enables us to keep going.
The people who heard Isaiah’s words were in desperate need of hope. To a people living in oppression, exile, wondering if God had forgotten them, these words brought much needed hope. Change is coming, change is here. God has not forgotten you. Deep darkness will become light. The hopelessness, despair they lived with will be transformed into hope.
Winter will become spring.
Isaiah’s original hearers lived under a long period of political oppression and exile. In parts of the world, people are living under similar circumstances of oppression and loss of a homeland. I live in different circumstances; perhaps you do too. While we may not live have a firsthand understanding of the deep darkness of political oppression or loss of a homeland, we do understand in a way what it is to live in the deep darkness of an addiction or illness, the loss of someone dear to us, financial hopelessness, or a struggling marriage. At periods in our lives, we will enter into times of deep darkness. When we do dwell in a time of darkness, it becomes apparent to us we cannot go on in our own strength or power. We are powerless to fix things in our lives, or life of our child/parent/friend. We try, and find we simply cannot do it.
The God who created light in the darkness at the dawn of creation is still creating light in our darkest of times. The sure promises of God shine into the darkness- God will never leave us or forsake us, and one day God will indeed bring shalom, a just peace that rights all wrongs, and God’s Kingdom will fully come. While our situation may not immediately resolve, we have hope in who God is and what God has done for us.
Like light in the darkness, the promises of God bring hope. Like a boat firmly anchored through a storm, we find our firm hope in Jesus, the anchor of our lives.