One of the encouraging things about God’s preparation is that we can trace it back hundreds of years before Jesus was actually born! At Christmas time, we often read the prophecies in the Old Testament which speak about Jesus, long before He actually arrived. In Isaiah 9, a chapter which looks ahead to the birth of Jesus, we read, ‘The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.’ (Is 9:2)

One of the difficult things in our country about this time of year (November through to March) is the darkness. We have relatively few hours of daylight in the daytime compared to June; sunrise is often not until about 8 a.m. and sunset can be about 4 p.m. The weather often adds to the sense of gloom, with clouds, fog, rain and snow adding to darkness. All these factors add to feelings of hopelessness and helplessness. It can be difficult to want to go outdoors or do things; it can be easy to let despair and lethargy wash over you. But the arrival of Jesus brings light into darkness and hope into hopeless situations. Isaiah goes on to say,

‘For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
will accomplish this.’ (Isaiah 9:6-7)

These names and promises associated with Jesus shine light into the darkness of despair and remind us that God is still at work, whether we see this yet or not.