When working in prison ministry with Chuck Colson, I’d often tell people that “to see the light of Jesus Christ shine the brightest, you need to meet people in their darkest places.” It was a way to encourage and remind ministry leaders that radical transformations and hope in Jesus can be found in prisons, hospital wards, foster care facilities, addiction recovery clinics and families living in poverty – if we take the time to visit and walk alongside them. I am a living testimony to this.
But this year has been something different altogether. The darkness and brokenness of this world have surrounded us, leaving many wondering whether light or hope will ever break through again. With the pandemic of COVID, we have even been forced to consider the air we breathe. Is it safe? Do I care if it is safe? Is it selfish for me, even if I am healthy, not to put the safety of others atop my priority list?
We wrestle with the challenges of the day at a personal level. We come together as a family to make decisions. We use our political freedom to speak into the system created of, by and for the citizenry with our grievances and hope that we might be governed in a manner that honors God, cherishes life, protects families and advances our religious liberty.
And some might even raise a question to the Father in our prayers, “Is this as bad as it can get?” or “I trust you, Father, but what is your solution and when will it come?”
What is the solution after all? Is it the vaccines? Is it when the stock market hits a new high or the unemployment rates go down? Maybe it is when the restaurants open again. We aren’t even sure when our elections are over or how fair they have been.
Many of us have had COVID (myself included) and not suffered, only to see others we know become overwhelmed and die with stunning speed and complete devastation of their bodies.
Part of all the uncertainty comes from the nature of the virus itself. The COVID-19 strain of the commonly transmitted coronavirus class of disease is novel. That is what makes it different and so uncertain. Novel means “new.”
But is what we are experiencing on earth this year new? Scripture and historical texts have an easy answer: No. We have had pandemics and diseases that have devastated life individually, through families and communities, and even globally. We have had economic crashes and recessions. We have endured uncertainty in our gainful work, whether it be in hunting for food or receiving a paycheck to support our families.
James 1:12 tells us, “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.”
2020 has certainly given many of us reason to remember that life on this fallen planet can indeed be a test. But God loved us so much He gave us the answer key to this test in the birth of His Son, our Lord, Jesus.
He gave us “Immanuel,” God with us, born to a virgin in the most humbling of circumstances. He gave us the answer, the solution and even the cure to everything that we might face here on earth. Jesus was the answer then as He was from the beginning and will be at the end – whether we live to see that end or are called up early.
He gave us Living Water when we cried out for earthly water to quench our immediate human thirst.
And He gave us the Light of the World when all hope seemed lost and the world darkest.
In other words, He gave us Christmas. Immanuel. Jesus. The Christ coming to live among us. Born to be “for us” even when we lived against God. Our solution then, now and always.
2020 will be a special Christmas for me and my family, and I pray it will be for you and yours too. This is because the light of Jesus is shining so brightly against the darkness in our culture today. This is what we see, and I pray you see it too.
And we at Family Policy Alliance have been so blessed this year to see His light shining through you. Your work and support to advance the mission we share produced fruit that cannot be explained with human measuring sticks like money, staff size or advertising campaigns. This year we gained a lot of ground in protecting the lives of babies in the womb in many states. Together, we advanced our religious freedom, families and honored God throughout our efforts.
Things didn’t work out the way we wanted though. Not everywhere. There is so much left to do, and the odds seem so daunting to many of us if you pause to look at them. But we march forward together because we have Immanuel. God with us. In His Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.
On December 25, 2020 we will celebrate the gift of Jesus and we will keep him our focus as we move into 2021. God is with us. Praise His holy name!
Merry Christmas—the Light has come!
President and CEO