Have you ever struggled with depression? Have you found yourself searching for "more" to life? Discover hope and healing in Jesus, the Light of the World.
The people living in darkness have seen a great light;
upon those living in the land that lies in the shadow of death, light has dawned.
- Isaiah 9:1
Are you longing for hope? Waiting for something to change? Do you struggle with depression or find yourself dealing with frequent disappointment? All of these painful experiences can feel like darkness. We can’t see our way clearly out of the shadows into the light.
Winter is a season of decreased light, which can have a significant impact on our minds and bodies. I struggle with Seasonal Affect Disorder and have found various ways to deal with this in the winter months. Regardless of the options to combat S.A.D., one thing is clear, a day bathed in the warm light of sunshine changes everything, including my perspective.
Have you ever been outside on a pitch black night? Or lost power at night and found yourself groping through the dark, feeling your way to a candle or flashlight? Consider the difference even one candle flame makes in a dark room, or a full moon on a dark night. Light – both natural and man-made – are such a part of our lives that we many not think of light as a gift.
In Scripture, darkness often refers to ignorance, evil or chaos. It can also refer to captivity. Webster’s defines darkness as absence of light. Without knowledge or culture. Obscurity. Unilluminated.
Isaiah 9 records one of many prophecies of Jesus Christ, the Messiah.  Between Malachi (the last Old Testament prophet) and the time of Jesus there were “400 years of silence” meaning, we have no record of any prophets or inspired writers in Israel. The birth of Jesus (Yeshua) was the light at the end of a long, dark tunnel. The Messiah’s birth brought hope and the gift of light to a dark and hopeless world.
In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
He was with God in the beginning.
All things came to be through him
and without him nothing made had being.
In him was life,
and the lift was the light of mankind.
The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness has not suppressed it.
There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came to be a testimony, to bear witness concerning the light; so that through him, everyone might put his trust in God and be faithful to him. He himself was not that light; no, he came to bear witness concerning the light.
This was the true light,
which gives light to everyone entering the world.
He was in the world – the world came to be through him –
yet the world did not know him.
He came to his own homeland,
yet his own people did not receive him.
But to as many as did receive him to those who put their trust in his person and power, he gave the right to become children of God, not because of bloodline, physical impulse or human intention, but because of God.
The Word became a human being and lived with us,
and we saw his Sh’khinah ,
the Sh’khinah of the Father’s only son,
full of grace and truth.
Webster’s defines Light as something that makes vision possible. Truth. Illumination.
Jesus spoke to them again: “I am the light of the world;
whoever follows me will never walk in darkness
but will have the light which gives life.”
- John 8:12
Where in your life do you need illumination? Jesus is the light. What cloak of darkness has weighed you down? Jesus is the light. Where do you feel hopeless? Jesus is the answer and our living hope. Scripture is full of stories of people in situations where all seemed lost … but God. God is always moving, working, speaking, creating, and acting on our behalf and orchestrating His plan and purpose. Just because we may not sense the spiritual with the physical does not mean He isn’t there.
There were times in history when the Jewish people were to be annihilated completely. One such story is the book of Esther. Another one is the story resulting in Hanukkah (also spelled Chanukah). The word in Hebrew means “Dedication”. Hanukkah is also called Feast of Dedication or Festival of Lights. John 10:22 records Jesus observing Hanukkah. “Then came Hanukkah in Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was walking around inside the Temple area, in Solomon’s Colonnade.”
“According to I Maccabees, a text of the Apocrypha (writings excluded from the Jewish canon but included in the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Old Testament canons) the celebration of Hanukkah was instituted by Judas Maccabeus in 165 BCE to celebrate his victory over Antiochus IV Epiphanes, the Seleucid king who had invaded Judaea, tried to Hellenize the Jews, and desecrated the Second Temple in Jerusalem. Led by Mattathias and his son Judas Maccabeus (died c. 161 BCE), the Maccabees were the first Jews who fought to defend their religious beliefs rather than their lives.
Following his victory in a three-year struggle against Antiochus, Judas ordered the cleansing and restoration of the Temple. After it was purified, a new altar was installed and dedicated on Kislev 25. According to the Talmud, when Judas Maccabeus entered the Temple, he found only a small jar of oil that had not been defiled by Antiochus. The jar contained only enough oil to burn for one day, but miraculously the oil burned for eight days until new consecrated oil could be found, establishing the precedent that the festival should last eight days. This holiday celebrates Jewish strengths, perseverance, and continuity.” 
In both the story of Esther and the Maccabees, reference to God is absent and it could appear that He is silent. However, timing of circumstances and miracles prove the opposite. God is always present. He is always working. His plan and purpose will always prevail no matter the evil in the world or the present darkness that can press in tightly. He preserved the Jews, His chosen nation, so Jesus would be born at the appointed time.
“The Jewish people expected and longed for the Messiah – the one who would put an end to suffering, establish an eternal kingdom, and “uphold it with justice and righteousness” (Isaiah 9:1-7). And that expected Savior came, fulfilling every prophecy ever written about Him. Because of these assurances were proven true, we have hope. We can trust in Jesus’ promise to come again in glory – and knowing that where He is, we will one day be also (John 14:1-6).” 
God is just as active today and He promises to never desert or abandon us. (Heb. 13:5) Hope is not wishful thinking. Hope which is rooted in Scripture and trust in Jesus is a living hope. An anchor for our weary souls and storm-battered lives. Hebrews 6:19a,
“We have this hope as a sure and safe anchor for ourselves.”
The holidays can often bring to the surface deeper emotions you may not be aware of. Perhaps you grieve the loss of a loved one. Perhaps there is significant change or disappointment you are dealing with. Add to that the stress of all the "extras" added into already full schedules, along with heightened expectations and any unresolved conflicts, the holidays can sometimes be anything but, "the most wonderful time of the year." In spite of all the pretty lights, festive music and traditions.
This year, what would it look like to be gentle and kind to yourself? To let some activities go in order to focus on what matters? Perhaps consider lighting a candle – or menorah during Hanukkah* - and notice how the dancing light of the flame illuminates the dark. Can you list the ways God’s gift of light has impacted your life? What would it feel like to surrender expectations, disappointments, fears, and hurts to Jesus? Is there a person or situation you can surrender to Him and His care as well?
One of the many benefits of Christian Life Coaching is proving the support you need to find hope as well as any helping you move forward in any areas where you feel stuck. To learn more about how we can support you in this process, you can schedule HERE for a no-obligation Create a Life You Love Discovery Session.
This blog is by Freedom to Flourish Life Coaching Founder and Christian Life Coach, Jen Stone-Sexton. She is currently accepting new clients. You can learn more about Jen here.
Jennifer Stone-Sexton © 2022 Freedom to Flourish Life Coaching All Rights Reserved.
 Yeshua (a variant of Joshua) means “Yahweh saves” (Matthew 1:21). The name was brought over into Greek as Iésous and into English as Jesus. | Messiah comes from the Hebrew word mashiach and means “anointed one” or “chosen one.” The Greek equivalent is the word Christos or, in English, Christ. The name “Jesus Christ” is the same as “Jesus the Messiah.” In biblical times, anointing someone with oil was a sign that God was consecrating or setting apart that person for a particular role. Thus, an “anointed one” was someone with a special, God-ordained purpose.  Sh’khinah (Hebrew) means Divine Presence, the manifest glory of God present with men.  www.britannica.com/topic/Hanukkah  Dr. Charles Stanley, In Touch Ministries – Advent - November 27, 2022
More about Hanukkah Traditions:
The most important of all Hanukkah traditions is the lighting of the menorah each evening. Also known as the Hanukkah lamp, the menorah recalls the Temple lampstand and is a simple or elaborate candelabra with eight branches plus a holder for the shammash (“servant”) candle that is used to light the other eight candles. One candle is lit on the first evening, and an additional candle is lit on each subsequent evening until eight candles are burning on the last evening. Candles are inserted in the menorah incrementally each night of the festival from right to left but are lit from left to right. A blessing is also offered while the candles are lit each night.
Photo Credits: Cover Photo 1 by Daiga Ellaby on Unsplash | Photo 2 by Prateek Gautam on Unsplash |
Photo 3 by Morgan Howard | Photo 4 by Aaron Burden on Unsplash | Photo 5 by Author