Light in the Middle of the Tunnel
Alex & Brenda Awad
When the prophet Isaiah proclaimed the advent of Emanuel coming in human flesh, he portrayed it as a "great light" from God coming to people who were groping in "the land of the shadow of death" or what some may call the center of a dark tunnel. In that darkness there was no peace, but rather, the fear of death and destruction. Isaiah described this light that permeated the middle of the tunnel with these words:
The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.
Darkness, no matter how dark, is never able to triumph over the light of God. God lit up the skies of Bethlehem in the deep darkness of that first Christmas Eve. This is how Luke described the heavenly light as it brightened the tunnel-existence of the shepherds:
An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.
This Christmas season, I will not wait until I reach near the end of the tunnel to see the light. It is not that I want to deny the realities of the darkness, violence and other insecurities that are threatening both me and my neighbors. But right here, in the middle of our tunnel, we can resolve to see the light of God shining through the heart of our circumstances. God's promise for me and my Palestinian brothers and sisters is that he is present in our dark hour and will grace us with a peaceful flood of his light.
John describes the coming of Christ into the world as "the true light that gives light to every man [and woman]" (1 John 1:9) - a light that pierced through the darkness of the Roman occupation of Palestine and the darkness and deception of Herod the Great. The darkness of the prevailing circumstances was powerless to stop that light from shining. The star that brightened the sky and led the Magi to Bethlehem illumined the manger as it stood over the place where Christ was born. The fears of the holy family and the frustrations of the Magi were replaced by the peace of God. Here is how Matthew describes the light of that star shining in the middle of that tunnel:
After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.
There is hope today for everyone who is walking in "darkness" and in "the shadow of death". These may be the residents of today's Bethlehem who are locked in and surrounded on every side by an eight meter high wall. Fear of the future and uncertain political and economic conditions have caused many to leave their beloved city. For those who have decided to stay, however, God comes to them from over the high walls and across man-made human barriers to shine with his light in the middle of their tunneled existence.
There is hope today for the people of Iraq because in the darkness of the occupation of their great country, God's light will come this Christmas to shed his peace upon many hearts.
There is hope for American soldiers who are spending this Christmas in the quagmire of Iraq. God will pierce the darkness and reach out to these men and women to refresh their hearts and shower them with his peace. The peace Jesus said, the world cannot give.
There is hope for the men, women and children who are infected and suffering from AIDS because in the middle of their dark tunnel of pain and death, God is calling, mobilizing and energizing men and women to intervene with missions of mercy that will bring healing and peace to their bodies and renewal to their souls.
There is hope for the survivors of the devastating earthquake in Pakistan. For in the middle of their darkened existence, God is calling his people to respond with acts of compassion to relieve them.
There is hope for the hungry and dying masses in Mozambique and other African countries because in the midst of their gloomy circumstances God is also coming to them this Christmas, inspiring compassionate charities to bring food and shelter for their bodies and peace and joy to their souls.
This Christmas there is hope for you regardless of your circumstances and challenges. God wants to meet you in the middle of your tunnel to shine his love, peace and grace upon you. The very light that broke through the darkness of the first Christmas Eve wants also to break through the darkness of your circumstances and grant you peace.