Sometimes all it takes is a little light to help us find our bearings. Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night disoriented, especially in a strange place? We awaken from a dream into a strange world that used to be our bedroom. Heart pounding, we search the dark for something familiar but all the shadows seem threatening. Gradually our eyes adjust as a tiny bit of light from the computer screen in the next room sheds light on the doorway and you relax as the room becomes familiar again.
Faith – Bethlehem’s Candle
For the nation of Israel, the world had been dark for a while, spiritually speaking. There had not been a word from God as far as prophets go for roughly 400 years. Possibly they had gotten used to the dark, but there were still some who were looking for a light. They had faith that God’s Word would be fulfilled, starting with the little town of Bethlehem.
But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.Micah 5:2
So, in Bethlehem that night the Messiah was born in fulfillment of this prophecy. Even though the town was small and insignificant to most people, it became the birthplace of the light of the world. However, not many people recognized it. Most were overwhelmed by the details of daily living, like the decree from Caesar for the census forcing everyone to return to their hometowns. It wasn’t hard to get distracted and miss the gift in the manger. After all, what good could come out of Bethlehem?
In him was life; and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.John 1:4-5
Jesus came to bring light back to the world, but the world couldn’t see it. They were used to the darkness and the light hurt their eyes, but once a light is turned on it chases away the darkness. When Jesus died and was resurrected, he left little traces of that light in the heart of each believer so that they could be a light in the darkness (Matthew 5:14). In order to shine our light, we have to keep our wicks ready and our lamps filled with oil, but how do we do that?
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.Hebrews 11:1
We do it through faith. This sounds simple until you are knee-deep in a struggle surrounded by more what if’s than you can comprehend. It is easy to lose faith and hope in those moments, just like when you wake in the middle of the night and try to make sense of the darkness. First, you have to focus on the light from within to get your bearings. The best way to do that is to follow the example of David.
But I have trusted in your faithful love; my heart will rejoice in your deliverance.Psalms 13:5 (CSB)
David found his bearings by reflecting and remembering what God had already done. When we feel lost in the struggle, we can follow David’s example. Just the other day I came home fighting the sneezing and sniffling that is common for this time of year and found myself wondering what if it was something else. Then, I went down the rabbit hole of all the issues that could cause and was slipping toward a downward spiral when I finally stopped to pray. I decided to take my temperature, just in case, praying the whole time. It was a normal 97.6 (normal for me anyway), and I felt God using that to reassure me. Worrying about all the potential hazards only sapped my joy and kept me busy spinning in a circle. Like the blue circle on my computer, it kept me from doing what needed to be done. The enemy does his best work by keeping us distracted so that not only can we not see the light, but we no longer are a light. In a world that has grown used to the darkness that is not a luxury we can afford.
That little town of Bethlehem gave birth to a great light and shared it with us. The least we can do is to share it with others. Fill your lamps with oil by taking a moment to reflect on who God is by reading the Word and reflecting on what God has done for you in the past. Then, you can direct the light outward to someone else who is struggling and help them find their bearings. A candle doesn’t lose any light by sharing the flame with another candle; it just increases the amount of light. So, light your lamp or candle and then share the flame so that we can chase away the darkness.
Just remember, in the middle of a bunch of what if’s it is best to focus on the what is. From there we can move forward on solid ground knowing that the light of Bethlehem still shines brightly.