The prevailing thought seems to be that 2016 was a major dumpster fire that most of us would rather forget. We watched as the US political arena morphed into a reality TV show that no one really knew how to follow. Fake news became a thing. But even the fake news was preferable to the incredibly depressing real news coming from Dallas, Chicago, Orlando, Michigan, Minnesota, Baton Rouge, Aleppo, France, San Francisco (really, this list could go on forever). Children of the 80s and 90s were hit particularly hard as our childhood icons died one after another.
Today, I happened to see what I posted to Facebook a year ago, as 2015 was coming to a close and 2016 with all of its horrors had yet to be unwrapped.
I remember how I felt as I was writing that. Just a few weeks before, I found out my husband had betrayed our marriage vows. I was miserable in my job (At some point, I will blog about this job. It just won’t be today). People I thought were friends had abandoned me. I wasn’t sure what God was doing with my call to ministry, but I was pretty sure he couldn’t use me anymore. I felt like I should be writing, but I was so broken, so uninspired, so empty. I didn’t have any words.
But I had begun to feel just a little glimmer of hope. My husband’s indiscretion was painful and devastating, but he was repentant. Love forgives, and rebuilds what the Enemy tries to destroy. This year has been a year of rebuilding for us, and our marriage is stronger and better than it has been in a very long time. I made some decisions about my job that allowed me to finally quit this year. It was scary and hard, but it was necessary and good. God’s call resounds more today than it ever has, and I know he is using me and preparing me for the life he has called me to. For me, it’s been a good year.
But I know that’s not so for the rest of the world. I can’t imagine the pain of seeing your loved one gunned down in the street over and over on cable news. The fear and hopelessness coming from Aleppo and the surrounding area are palpable. And it is just plain awful feeling we can’t trust our news because people are sitting at computers making up stories in hopes of confusing us and undermining our faith in a free press. As we move forward into the new year, fear and uncertainty plague our world in ways this generation has never seen. It seems we need a beacon of hope, a light in the darkness.
Tonight is the last night of Hanukkah. A couple of years ago, my oldest decided that we should celebrate Hanukkah as Christians. Not wanting to discourage his exuberance to worship God, I bought a menorah and candles and we learned to say the blessings and light the candles. Every time I think about the story of Hanukkah, I’m reminded of a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
All those years ago, the Macabees drove out their oppressors and set about rededicating the Temple. The temple that had been defiled needed a miracle. The miracle God provided was so simple, it was the gift of light. Much like the beginning of the universe, God used light to drive out darkness and bring order to chaos. In the story, it isn’t the Macabeean revolt that the Jewish people celebrate, it’s the miracle of the light.
It seems clear to me this New Year’s Eve and last night of Hanukkah that God intends for us to be light in a dark world.