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  • Debbie Salter Goodwin

Christmas in the Dark


I spent a frightening time in the hospital supporting our daughter one Christmas. She developed a heart infection that was on the brink of threatening her life. Christmas lights became intrusions as our worst fears tried to swallow us. What was supposed to be the “most wonderful time of the year” blurred into a dark and uncertain time. I wondered if Christmas could come in the dark.

There is nothing fun about hospitals or crisis at Christmas. But in those times, it is good to remember that Jesus didn’t come into a living room with a cozy fire and a Christmas tree with “Chestnuts Roasting” playing in the background. It was a stable with candle lantern at best. It was a straw floor and manger. Nothing cozy there. And it was night. Dark. Quiet. Unnoticeable.


In my hospital darkness, light came when a mother and daughter offered to buy, wrap, and deliver to the hospital any Christmas gifts we hadn’t purchased. Light came in the simple Christmas Eve service Lisa and I celebrated in the hospital room with battery candles, a Christmas story, and the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir.


We were a family huddled in a dark time, but it didn’t stay dark. Light came. Every person who reached out to us became Jesus’ light. Then, we felt like shepherds who were surprised by light at night. For us, it was the light of friendship and kindness, the light of mercy and grace.


The Light of the world IS Jesus, and he knows how to turn on the light in any darkness. He doesn’t change the reality we face, but he can change how we experience it.


Is there someone you know sitting in the dark this Christmas? Maybe Jesus wants to send you as his light-bearer. Maybe your Christmas will be brighter for you if you do.


Let every heart prepare . . .

  • Light a Jesus-candle in a dark room. Invite the Light of Jesus to help you see where he sends his light.

  • Find a Christmas Eve candlelight service to attend. Focus on what happens when everyone shares a light.

  • Do you know someone experiencing a dark Christmas this year? How could you bring Jesus’ light to them?



Below is the complete 4-week Advent guide, "Let Every Heart Prepare." Even if you didn't have time for daily readings before Christmas, the truths will still take you into your New Year. Download your copy below.




After the first of the year, I'll return to my every other week post. Look for the next post on Wednesday, January 4, 2023!

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