We Rejoice in the Light: Reflections on God’s Good Gift of Light

Inside: Opening our eyes to God’s good gift of light in the world around us (even in the dark of winter) helps us as we rejoice in the Light of the World more fully.

Not long ago, a rascally squirrel chewed through the power line of a substation transformer that powered our whole town. For a day and a long winter night, the homes and businesses of our small town were without electricity as crews scrambled to repair the damage and restore power. Our entire town was suddenly without power – no lights, no functioning gas station, and cash-only purchases made by flashlight wielding shoppers.*

The winter sun shone so brightly that day that we barely noticed the absence of electric light until the late afternoon dusk began to creep over the horizon. We then realized just how dark darkness is when we couldn’t just flip a switch to dispel it. We pulled out candles, oil lamps, and flashlights, yet our eyes, so accustomed to bright light 24/7, still strained to see. Our family toughed it out for a while, pretending we were a pioneer family like the Ingalls, but before long, we gave in and plugged a couple of lamps into the power bar my husband had run from the generator to keep the fridge going.

That winter day and night without electricity, other than what our generator provided, was a timely reminder of how essential, beautiful, and good light is. Whether it be the light of the sun, electric lights, or the light of candles and oil lamps – light is a precious gift from God.

No wonder the songwriter penned the line, “We rejoice in the light” in his beautiful Christmas hymn, There’s a Song in the Air. There is something so precious about the gift of light – a preciousness that is often lost on us until we find ourselves without it.

God has deeply woven many spiritual truths into the natural world, and nowhere is this more evident than in the creation of light. He Who created the earth and galaxies and spoke light into existence is Himself the Light of the World. Let’s look at some of these parallels together.

We Rejoice in the Light because it is Essential

We need the light. Our eyes need it to see, and all life needs the warmth it provides. We need it for our bodies to be well, as evidenced by the phenomena of SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder, a seasonal condition that most acutely affects those who live far into the northern hemisphere where winter daylight can be scarce. As much as our eyes need the light to see, our bodies need the light to thrive.

Never are we more aware of our dependence on light than as the darkness of winter presses in. As the bitter cold of long winter months seeps through the thickest of coats, scarves, and woolly mittens, the shortened days can bring feelings of sadness if not downright despair. We are designed to depend on light.

Yet even more than we need the light of the sun, lamps, and candles, we need the Light of the World.

On the first day of Creation, God created light and then divided it from the darkness. Read the creation account closely, and you’ll see a remarkable fact that God created light before He created the sun, moon, and stars. Light was before all those elements, and light will continue on after we no longer need those parts of creation (see Genesis 1:3-5, 14-19; Revelation 21:23-24).

“And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.
And God called the light day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.”

Genesis 1:3-5

We Rejoice in the Light Because it is Beautiful

What a joy the lights of Christmas decorations are. How fitting it is that we celebrate the birth of the Light of the World with colorful lights strung from rooftops, cheery candles throughout our homes, and trees wrapped in blankets of twinkling bulbs. Christmas is a season filled with glorious, shimmering lights, and rightly so – the First Christmas was, after all, awash in heavenly light! From the angel-filled sky to the guiding star shining brightly in the East, and most of all, the very Light of the World wrapped in swaddling clothes, tucked gently inside a humble manger.

We celebrate the birth of Christ with glorious displays of light because something deep within us longs for light. We delight in its glowing beauty and squint our eyes on purpose as we gaze at lighted Christmas trees because doing so amplifies the gleam, sending tiny beams cascading in a thousand brilliant directions.

How fitting that we celebrate the birth of the Light of the World with brilliant light displays!

But it’s not just the beauty of light we long for: we crave light because it dispels the darkness, brings warmth, and ensures safety. Think of how welcoming it is to see the light spilling from the windows of a home on a dark night or how much hope radiates from the rising of the morning sun.

Now think of that first Christmas, over 2000 years ago. It was a terribly dark time in history. God’s people were under fierce bondage to a cruel foreign government, religious corruption was rampant, and it seemed as though God had been silent for hundreds of years. 700 years before the birth of Christ, the prophet Isaiah had written:

“The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them has the light shined.”

Isaiah 9:2

For so long, the people of God waited for the dawning of that promised light. And then one day it happened! The wait was over! In his song of praise for the soon to be born Messiah, the priest Zaccarias declared:  

“Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us, to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

Luke 1:78-79

Like glorious dawn after the night, the birth of Christ Jesus brought the Light of the World into the world.

Charles Spurgeon wrote, “He has visited us as smiling morn, which in gentle glory floods the world with joy. He has come moreover, not as a blaze which will soon die down, but as a light which will last our day, yes, last forever. …Our Day may cloud over, but night will not return.” (from the Charles Spurgeon Joy Upon Joy Advent Devotional).

{You’ll also enjoy reading The Promise of Christmas}

We Rejoice in the Light is Because it is Good

Light is a good gift from God – both the natural light of the sun, moon, and stars and, yes, the incredible invention of electric lights. And have you ever realized how God has filled the winter with extra light if only we have eyes to behold it? The kind blessing of the late sunrises and early sunsets makes it easy for us to witness their splendor  – without missing any sleep! There’s the gift of light God has buried like millions of tiny diamonds in the snow as they capture the rays of sunlight and moonlight. And if you’re fortunate enough, you may even be able to witness stunning northern light displays, which are usually most vivid during winter months, for the very reason that there are more hours of darkness. Even in the darkest part of the year, God’s gift of light surrounds us.

We Rejoice in the Light of Sunrise
The late sunrises and early sunsets of winter are ours to enjoy!

And so it was that in the spiritually darkest time in human history, Light came into the world. We know from Scripture that in the darkest of times yet to come, Light will come once again – this time not as the gentle dawning of a tiny infant, but in blazing glory as King of kings. And indeed, the Light has never left – because Jesus said of His disciples, “You are the light of the world.” Like the moon reflects the light of a sun we cannot see during the dark of night, so followers of Christ are to reflect the light of our Saviour into the darkness of this present world as we await His return.

“There be many that say, Who will show us any good? LORD, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us.”

Psalm 4:6

God created the light. He came as the Light. And one day soon, He will replace the light, for there is no need for the Light of the sun and moon in Heaven:  Christ Himself will be the Light, and there will be no night, no darkness, no deadness of winter, ever again. (Revelation 21:23-24 ). That’s good enough news to have us singing “Hallelujah!” right along with the angel choir!

But while we wait for that glorious day, let’s look for the gift of God’s light all around us and rejoice in the light. On that winter night without electricity, I went out into the crisp night with my husband as he refilled the gas tank on the generator. I looked up into the sky, and what I saw took my breath away!

Stars we’d never seen before, scattered across the inky darkness of the night sky in a glorious display of God’s handiwork. While our town lay shrouded in velvet blackness, the sky above was ablaze with the most brilliant star show I could imagine. There were no porch or street lights to compete with the twinkling stars –  stars that had shone above our home every night for millennia. Yet, it was only when the night was darker than we had ever experienced that we were able to see the glorious galaxy we had been blind to before.

The stars are always there, but we often cannot see them shining so brightly. Stock Image

As I gazed into the night sky, I was reminded of the verse, “He made the stars also.” It almost sounds like the stars were an afterthought. The last sprinkling of sparkling confetti.  A final brushstroke of perfection that reminds us of God’s goodness. No matter the darkness of the night you may be facing, may you be reminded of God’s goodness as you rejoice in the light – God’s good gift of light in this world, but far more than that, may your soul rejoice in the Light of the World.

“Then spoke Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that follows me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”

John 8:12

For further reading, here are the lovely lyrics to the Christmas carol There’s a Song in the Air

There’s a song in the air! There’s a star in the sky!
There’s a mother’s deep prayer and a Baby’s low cry!
And the star rains its fire while the beautiful sing,
For the manger of Bethlehem cradles a King!

There’s a tumult of joy o’er the wonderful birth,
For the virgin’s sweet Boy is the Lord of the earth.
Ay! the star rains its fire while the beautiful sing,
For the manger of Bethlehem cradles a King!

In the light of that star lie the ages impearled;
And that song from afar has swept over the world.
Every hearth is aflame, and the beautiful sing
In the homes of the nations that Jesus is King!

We rejoice in the light, and we echo the song
That comes down through the night from the heavenly throng.
Ay! we shout to the lovely evangel they bring,
And we greet in His cradle our Savior and King!

Josiah G. Holland (1872)
Signature of Author

*A debate continues about what actually caused the transformer to fail – some say a squirrel could not have possibly done that level of damage, but no other explanation has been offered, so that remains the consensus of our townsfolk. ?

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