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  • Writer's pictureRichard Parrish

The Dark Side of Christmas

“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone” (Isaiah 9:2).

One evening, several years ago, I had dinner with a friend and realized that I was not alone in how I struggle during the Christmas Season.

As I listened to my friend (a wonderful husband and father) reflect on his unhappy childhood experiences at Christmas, I thought we had come from the same family. Like me, he understood that for some, the dark side of Christmas makes the light hard to see.

The prophet Isaiah lived at a time where his people (Israel) had difficulty seeing the light. Distress and despair dominated their lives. However, Isaiah looks to God and is assured that their gloom will dissipate because they will see a great light (Is. 9:1-2).

It’s the LIGHT of Christmas that helps me get through the darkness!

Once again, I’m reminded that—like my friend and me—others struggle during the Christmas Season.

For some, commercialism casts a dark shadow over this time of year. The “sugar rush” of Halloween can stimulate us to purchase gifts, with money we don’t have, to give to people who don’t need it.

No, I’m not opposed to gift giving and celebration. However, I am aware of how holiday commercialization distracts us from the true LIGHT of Christ.

Like Isaiah and his friends who lived in a land filled with thick darkness, I’m aware that there are those around us this season who also may struggle to see the LIGHT.

Some experience the grief of spending Christmas without the presence of a loved one. Others may sense loneliness this season because of a divorce. Financial hardship is a strain on many during this time of year.

It’s no wonder that people feel the dark side of Christmas!

However, as dark as our world may appear, we are reminded that the LIGHT of Christ still shines.

Isaiah’s (and Israel’s) despair turns to hope with God’s promise:

“For to us a child is born, to us, a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).

That evening, years ago, my friend and I talked openly about our struggles and realized that only the LIGHT of Jesus truly provides HOPE for everyone—no matter their past or their struggles. 

We understood that The dark side of Christmas does not have to be debilitating.

May your eyes glimpse the LIGHT of Christmas, which is Jesus our Savior! And, may we always remember that even in dark times we have a Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace.

-Richard Parrish



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