An Everlasting Light

Isaiah 60:1–3, 19–20 (NIV)

Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.

The sun will no more be your light by day, nor will the brightness of the moon shine on you, for the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory. Your sun will never set again, and your moon will wane no more; the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your days of sorrow will end.


Have you ever just wanted the world to hold still for a moment? For things to slow down? Have you begged for a moment to take a breath or for the world to hold steady for just a minute so you could catch up? Maybe that’s a rhetorical question. Because if I had to guess, I would assume that you’ve wished time would slow down because your growing child is slipping through your grasp. Or when one bit of bad news sweeps you off your feet one day after the next you secretly beg for things to stop for a little while so you can get your bearings again. Like a hamster in a wheel, sometimes it can feel like the world just keeps spinning, and if you lose your footing for even a moment you’ll just be tossed around by the out-of-your-control momentum. 

Maybe it’s because I’m a pastor and I’ve walked several dozen families through the days of grief following a loss. Maybe it’s because I’ve walked through my own difficult days of navigating death. But there’s nothing quite like those days of darkness. Just when the rug has been pulled out from underneath you, and you’re spinning out with confusion and sadness, you have to make a million decisions on how to care for your loved one’s body and say your goodbyes all while getting the kids to school, paying the bills, and managing the things of work, life, and family. Weeks after, just as you’re beginning to climb out of your grief, the world starts asking questions, demanding things to be taken care of when you still can’t think clearly. In the darkest days of our grief I remember feeling overwhelmed and insanely frustrated that the rest of the world didn’t stop when mine did.

No matter how badly we want it to stop, the world keeps spinning, life keeps moving forward, things keep changing, and with it darkness keeps creeping in. As long as we live in a broken, imperfect, sin-filled world, we’ll continue experiencing the pain of death, despair, destruction, and disappointment. Darkness is relentless in its pursuit. Yet, I tend to live like it’s not.

See, I have a habit. I’m still not sure if it’s a good one or a bad one, but when things are busy or overwhelmiDarkness is relentless in its my internal dialogue will turn up, and I’ll say to myself, “things will slow down after . . . (fill in the blank).” Sometimes, I even find myself saying it out loud. As I talk with friends or family about life and its stressors, and I sense that they think, or I’m beginning to think, that things are a lot, I’ll say it out loud in hopes of helping us both feel better. The funny thing is, of course, it never does. (Slow down, that is.) You push to get through the end of a semester only to find another one begins a few days later. You transition out of a job, relieving yourself of those particular difficulties, only to have to learn the ropes at a new job, adding new stress in a different way. You’re begging for your over-due baby to make their appearance and bring the difficulty of pregnancy to an end only to find yourself in the endless sleepless nights of a newborn’s schedule. Or, like us, you begin finding your way forward after suddenly losing your daughter when you hit a deer on the interstate at night and total your car in a terrifying accident. If it’s not one thing, it’s another. And we find ourselves longing for the chaos to come to an end, to have navigated the change, and for the change, the hardship, to stop its pursuit.

That longing, the sometimes urgent need for an end to struggle and pain, death and disease, is the ultimate reminder that we weren’t meant for it. We were designed for life in perfect relationship with God, with creation, and with one another. The darkness of grief, strain, and separation makes us long for the light of eternity. And in a great gift to us, the prophecies of Isaiah remind us of the coming promise and the relief that will finally come in Christ’s eternity. Can you imagine?! “The Lord will be your everlasting light, and your days of sorrow will end.”

As often as I tell myself, “when I get through this thing, then the trial will be over,” I’m holding onto a temporal hope, which also means one that will likely fail me. When God offers us an eternal hope, one that will never fail, God is faithful to his promise of an eternal restoration, the establishment of his kingdom over all things, and the eradication of all evil—including the darkness of death and sorrow. The Light of Christ is the presence of God that enters into the darkness of our broken world. It’s also the eternal light that will restore and redeem all things to himself, and we will have the great pleasure of life in his radiance, free from all darkness.

When the world is overwhelming, and you’re begging for it to stop for a moment, shift your focus to the light to come, and prepare yourself for the moment of his glorious return. Because it’s not a mind game to keep yourself going, it becomes the very foundation that steadies you through all things. When you say to yourself this time, “The Light of Christ is with me now, and he is unfolding his glorious return.” 


How loving and patient you must be, gracious Father, to so gently bear with us as we cling to all the wrong things, believing the darkness more than the light and convincing ourselves that if we’re just a little stronger, a little more patient, if we just endure a little more, then we’ll find our own way from darkness to light; when you’re inviting us into a greater peace and promise than anything we can accomplish in our own strength. Help us, Lord, to catch a glimpse of your eternal light and let the light of your coming kingdom shine so brightly in us that it eradicates the darkness of any sorrow or storm. Thank you, Father, for your faithfulness and for holding fast to your promise of a glorious kingdom to come. Until Christ’s return. Amen.


Is your tendency to motivate yourself with the mind games of “holding on” a little longer? Do you tend to muster your own strength for the hope to keep going? How might shifting your focus from the temporal disappointment to the joy of a coming, eternal relief help you to keep going now? Do you think this Advent you can find the light of eternity even in the darkness of today?

For the Awakening,
Sarah Wanck

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WHAT IS THIS? Wake-Up Call is a daily encouragement to shake off the slumber of our busy lives and turn our eyes toward Jesus. Each morning our community gathers around a Scripture, a reflection, a prayer, and a few short questions, inviting us to reorient our lives around the love of Jesus that transforms our hearts, homes, churches, and cities.

Comments and Discussion

One Response

  1. When we try
    To use muscle
    To overcome
    Life’s hustle bustle
    We rustle up
    More and more stress
    And wind up in
    An even bigger tussle.
    The best way
    To reduce stress
    Is to surrender,
    To lay down our mess,
    And to learn
    To daily experience
    God’s peaceful rest
    So that we can
    Let the wind
    Of God’s Spirit
    Continually unwind
    Our tangled mind
    And troubled heart.

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