Over the course of this year, I have had countless conversations that ended with lamenting the difficulties this year has held. When something difficult happens, it has been easy to respond to the situation by adding it to the list of wrongs 2020 has dealt out:
“2020 just won’t quit.”
“Man, this year!”
“Of course that happened—it’s 2020!”
“2020 is the worst!”
My husband and I are first-time homeowners and bought a fixer-upper straight out of the ’70s last fall. The entire house needed an overhaul, which, I will add, is not as easy to pull off as Chip and Joanna make it look. But with help from friends and family, we pulled down wallpaper, ripped up carpets, and got to work making updates. The work was all moving forward without too much drama until this past March—you know, March 2020—when the world shut down.
A pipe broke during the night in our lower level, and we woke up to water everywhere. The amount of water that had gotten underneath our new floors was enough to require all the flooring to be ripped up and totally replaced. This was the day after my brother, displaced from his college, arrived to live with us while his school made decisions about the rest of the semester. We had five people in our house and only one bedroom that wasn’t flooded with water. Man, this year, am I right?
Fast forward to the fall, and we discovered mold growing between our lower-level floorboards, those same floorboards we just replaced. This ultimately meant we had to evacuate the house while testing was done to determine the safety of the air quality in our home and the next steps. The next steps? The flooring needed to be ripped up, mold cleaned out, foundation sealed, and new flooring installed for the third time in one year. 2020 is the worst!
Maybe—and by that I mean hopefully—you did not experience this exact set of issues with your home this year. But I am guessing that you have a similar story that you could share. A story that involves incident after incident after incident. A story that is draining to recall or maybe felt similarly difficult and unending. 2020 just won’t quit.
A Little Extra Light
Now as we turn the calendar to December, I have noticed that friend after friend is already well into weeks of Christmas decorations being up. Is this you too? Did you decide to pull out some lights and listen to Christmas songs a little earlier than usual this year? When I have seen early Christmas traditions shared on social media, the messages accompanying the posts echo these sentiments:
“This year needs a little extra light.”
“2020 needs some extra Christmas cheer.”
“We just needed some extra happiness this year.”
After our downstairs flooring saga, I can get on board (no pun intended) with these feelings!
It’s hard not to agree with everyone who is wishing for a little extra sparkle to end this year. I totally understand the feeling that a little extra light and a little extra cheer can’t hurt. Christmas is also my most favorite time of the year, so I am here for the decorations! And yet, I also know that eventually the Christmas decorations and fun lights go back in boxes, and then we will be left once again with a less-than-sparkly 2020.
Jesus Is the Light of Life
As easy as it has been to use 2020 as a scapegoat for the hardships this year brought, it is also just as easy to lose sight of the truth that these hardships are a result of the sin and brokenness in our world more than they are a result of this catastrophic year.
In the Gospel of John, we are told: “The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world” (1:9). This is the kind of Christmas light I can really get behind. In fact, this is the only kind of light that can truly fix all the problems that 2020 sprung on us. A light that doesn’t fade when my house is flooding, a light that doesn’t require me to untangle it and wrangle it onto a tree, a light that will still be present as we turn to face whatever 2021 will hold.
Whether you decorated for Christmas earlier than usual or at your regular time this year, whether you put up a few extra lights around your house to warm your spirits or not, let those lights point you to the light—the light that breaks into the darkness of this world. And no amount of darkness, not the darkness of 2020 or the darkness that will inevitably accompany 2021, not the darkness of sin, nor the darkness of your heart, will be able to extinguish that light.
In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:4–5
Rejoice! The light has come into the world, and He has come to stay. Here’s to hoping that my downstairs floors will stay next year too!
Download the December Everyday Faith Calendar to keep reading about what God’s Word has to say about light. Each day has a Scripture passage to read and a prompt to consider.