Is it really almost 2022 already?? I don’t know about you, but this past year has felt like a blur - a blur that began all the way back in 2020. There’s been a near-constant barrage of changing Covid regulations, news stories that sadden and/or anger us, loss, and increasing political polarization. At the same time, God has continued to move in our lives collectively and individually. We’ve gotten access to Covid vaccines, we’ve seen family and friends in person, we’ve had the opportunity to be on campus, and God has met us personally through scripture, prayer, and small groups. We’ve simultaneously experienced moments of darkness and moments of light and joy.
As we head into a new year, let’s take a moment to think back on this past year and all that we experienced in it. To begin, we are going to look at a short passage in John 1. John is one of 4 books of the Bible that tell the story of Jesus’ life on Earth- these books are known as the Gospels. The Gospels each start with different introductions to who Jesus is and where he and his authority comes from. Let’s take a look at the author of the book of John’s introduction.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
Questions to Consider
Who is ‘the Word’?
What does this passage reveal about Jesus?
What does it mean that “the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it”?
When I first read this passage with my Greek IV staff worker I was blown away by how much information was shared in so few verses! Right off the bat, the author declares that not only was Jesus with God at the beginning of creation, but he IS God. The author also gives two distinct attributes to Jesus, calling him the light of mankind and the giver of life. Wait, is the author serious? In a world filled with darkness and death, it seems miraculous that there is someone who could bring light and life! Yet, this is exactly who Jesus is. The author then acknowledges there is darkness in our world too, and yet, declares that the light of Christ is greater.
Now, let’s take a few moments to process the past year through this lens of darkness and light. Find a space that feels comfortable and quiet and invite God to be present with you as you think through these questions:
When has this year felt dark or like God was far? Take a moment to lament or confess if need be.
When did you experience God’s light this year (or when did God feel close)?
What are you thankful for from this past year? Take a moment to thank God for those things.
What are some of your hopes for the new year? Take a moment to invite God into those things and give them over to him.
I had a friend from church once tell me that using the word ‘and’ drastically changed the way she saw herself and the world around her. She explained how, when we use the word ‘but’, we either tend to focus on the darkness in life as if there is no light, or we focus on the light in our lives as if there is no suffering. We often say things like “God is supposed to be good, but there is so much hurt in the world” or “there is so much hurt in the world, but God is good!” Neither of these fully captures the tension of our lives as Christians though.
There is pain in our world - we know that full well after the past two years. And, somehow, simultaneously God is good and his light is greater than the darkness (as we learned from the passage above). Both of these things are valid and equally true. So, as we head into the new year it is my prayer that God would give you the eyes to see his light that shines in the darkness of our world, and that you would draw near to God when it’s challenging to live in the tension of pursuing Christ amid the darkness.