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Joy in the Darkest Night
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December 21, 2016

 As I write, the sun has left the sky and the world outside my window is dark. Here in the mountains, away from other buildings, the darkness is not broken by man-made lights. And on this winter’s night, the moon and stars are hidden from view by snow clouds.


This darkness is gentle when compared to the darkness of suffering and sorrow. In a season filled with bright colored lights, happy songs, and laughter, the very real sorrow and suffering of people gets lost in the noise and clutter. Those who are mourning a loss or struggling to get through a day filled with pain feel even more isolated from the world because they simply cannot join in. It costs more than they have to give.

I know what that feels like – the sense of being alone in a busy office or a bustling store. I remember that I couldn’t even muster up the energy to think about God, or Christmas, or anything besides going through the motions of getting through the day.


It was in that dull, drab time of my life that I first encountered the quote: “Joy is not the absence of sorrow, but the Presence of God.”

At first I hardly noticed the quote, encountered as a filler in some magazine or newsletter. But it stuck with me, and I found myself pondering what it could mean. And as I wrestled with my pain, I began to have a sense that I wasn’t as alone as I thought; God’s love was with me, even in my sorrow, even in my pain.


There was no stunning revelation, no voice heard singing “Gloria in excelsis Deo!” Just a small, dim sense of being loved – sort of like seeing the small light of a night light barely shining bright enough to be seen from the end of the hall and down the stairs. Not much, but it’s there. And it’s reassuring, providing just enough light to get by. And, most important of all, it’s enough.


To those who are mourning or filled with pain, I offer this hope: you are not alone. God’s love is with you, even if you don’t have the strength to respond or care. God knows your pain, weeps with you in sorrow, and befriends you through your difficult days and nights. I know this is true from experience. I pray you will read this and be comforted.


Rev. Vivian Hiestand

Executive Pastor

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