It was like a dream come true. It was right after Christmas. And I was in Manger Square in Bethlehem! Near the entrance to the Church of the Nativity, built over the cave believed to be the birthplace of the Son of God.

It felt like the whole town was a celebration. Festive lights lining the streets. Caroling choirs. A parade. And a dazzling Christmas tree on the square.

Not this Christmas. The birthplace of Christmas will be dark and deserted this Christmas.

Just like so many hearts this Christmas. Everywhere. The song says, "It's the most wonderful time of the year." But not for everybody. The "joy to the world" only seems to amplify the sadness if your holiday heart is lonely or broken.

A loved one lost. A crumbling marriage. A wandering son or daughter. A life-upending diagnosis. A shattered relationship. Or just a nameless darkness in your soul.

Strangely, when Jesus came that first Christmas, there were no lights, no parades - not even a room where He could be born. The Romans had found another way to exact more money from the already impoverished Jewish people. The Son of God would come into the world in the filth and stench of a stable. And soon, the little family would flee as refugees, when the evil king ordered the massacre of every Jewish baby boy under two.

It was pretty dark that first Christmas. And, in a way, it was dark all the way to that Good Friday 33 years later when Jesus would die alone on a Roman cross.

But for every heart that feels "dark and deserted" this Christmas, there is hope in that manger.

The Bible reveals what was really going on in that stable - "In Him was life, and the life was the Light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it" (John 1:4-5).

We often hear that God is at the top of the mountain and all the religions of the world are ways to get to Him up there.

But Jesus didn't come to start or to be a religion. He was something no one had ever conceived of...

The God who came down from the mountain to where we are!

To be one of us. To bring God close. And, ultimately, to die for us. For the very sinning we've done against Him!

For ultimately, the darkness in our heart is the absence of the God we were made for. Our loneliness is cosmic loneliness. We're lonely for God. And our brokenness is the damage done by a world with eight billion of God's creations - including us - defying His rule over their lives.

But since that "O holy night" in Bethlehem, millions have found the Light that is stronger than the darkness. A light inside you, not dependent on a flickering world around you.

It is a new beginning, offered in Jesus' liberating invitation:

"I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life" (John 8:12).

Every wrong thing we've ever done - forgiven. The broken pieces repaired and restored by His resurrection power. And finally, the end of lostness, the beginning of a life with eternal meaning.

And one unlosable love. For "nothing in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:39). One love that will never desert you, never divorce you, never die on you.

Somewhere today there is a heart that has just spent its last day "dark and deserted." For today, the Light comes in.

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Hutchcraft Ministries
P.O. Box 400
Harrison, AR 72602-0400

(870) 741-3300
(877) 741-1200 (toll-free)
(870) 741-3400 (fax)


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