Advent devotion: Afraid of the dark

News | December 24, 2017

I am afraid of the dark.

We’ve all got fears, right? Sometimes our fears are rational, sometimes they’re not. Spiders, heights, tornadoes, etc. For me, it’s the dark.

I can’t explain it. When I wake up in the middle of the night and walk down the hall, I get very jumpy. I start to imagine all of the terrible things that could be going on around me: a monster waiting just around the corner, a pack of mice scurrying around my feet, or a cinderblock in just the right spot for me to stub my toe. My imagination goes wild because my sense of sight is not functioning properly enough to tell me that I’m being ridiculous.

It’s the unknown, I think, that makes the dark so scary. Even if you’re not as afraid as I am, you can probably agree that darkness is uncomfortable. It fills the moment with a nervous anxiety. It’s disorienting. It’s paralyzing.

The gospel of John’s claim of Jesus as light, then, is liberating. Jesus dispels the darkness. Jesus’ love, his actions, and his promises break through pain and despair to give us hope. Even when we are afraid. Even when we don’t see much hope to be had.

Jesus’ light does not get rid of all of the things lurking in the darkness. People die. Wars happen. Poverty persists. But the light gives us the faith that we need to maneuver around them.

Jesus tells us and shows us that God’s love is unconditional; he points us towards a future in which there will be no crying, no death, and no pain (from Revelation 21). In the meantime he promises to embrace us through the support and presence of the community of faith we have around us.

When I find myself trapped in the darkness, I fumble around looking for a light switch or flashlight to relieve my fear. In the same way, I hold tightly to Jesus’ light when I find myself vulnerable to the unknown in my life.

Josh Kestner is a pastor in residency at St. Paul. He loves sunshine, sports (Go Clemson Tigers!), his dog, and a nice, big plate of spaghetti.

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