“Hello Darkness, my old friend…”

“Hello Darkness, my old friend…”

For many Christians, the Advent season is about anticipation and hope and joy that is found in Christ Jesus. It is a time where Christians will reflect on what Christ has done, and His promises of the future. Unfortunately, for some Christians, and many non-Christians in the secular Western world, it can be a time of despair, depression, disillusionment, and hopelessness. It is not necessarily, what we want to hear; we would rather focus on the pleasantries of our faith, as well as memories we will make with our loved ones. However, this is not the case for many; it is real life that they go through pain and agony.

The cause of their anguish could be quite varying. It could be feelings of loneliness during the holidays, or grief from loved ones who have departed; it could be simply as much as the frustration of the commercialization of Christmas. Regardless, many people do not look to the holidays as a blessing, but rather a curse. This pain, anguish, guilt, sadness, or despair is not for us to fix, that is for Christ alone. Yet, as followers of Christ, we do have a role and a duty to support these hurting people. It is for us to keep our eyes and ears open to their sometimes-silent cries, and be to them here in the flesh what Christ is for us in our hearts and souls. Showing them the compassion and love that Christ shows us is not simply the right thing to do, but it is an expectation.

Sound of Silence

Admittedly, I do not know many of the personal details of Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel. Thinking about the opening line of the Sound of Silence, it seems so fitting for what so many face during this season. I found that Simon (the songs lyricist and composer) comes from a Jewish background but does not consider himself religious at all. However, in a Christianity Today article in 2012 he stated, “For somebody who’s not a religious person, God comes up a lot in my songs.” About the song more specifically, Art Garfunkel said of the song’s meaning, “the inability of people to communicate with each other, not particularly internationally but especially emotionally, so what you see around you are people unable to love each other.”

When looking at how these two secular songwriters have reached into the soul of people and see not only our brokenness, but also our means to fix it, it is evident that God will use any method to reach us, and He will reach us where we are. That is the example we must follow when acting as His hands and feet, and bringing light and love to the world.

Bringing Light to the World

These ideas of reaching people and finding ways to communicate and love are biblical principles, not just some song by two guys written in the 1960s. In his first letter to the church in Corinth, Paul wrote, “Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor. Eat anything that is sold in the meat market without asking questions for conscience’ sake; For the earth is the Lord’s, and all it contains. If one of the unbelievers invites you and you want to go, eat anything that is set before you without asking questions for conscience’ sake” (1 Cor 10:24-27 NASB).

These statements were a continuation of points made in the previous chapter where Paul exposed himself for the sake of the Gospel, he explained, “For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more. To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law; to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some. I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it” (1 Cor 9:19-23 NASB). Clearly, Paul is showing that we need to become what others need in their time of need, and it is done for their sake and the glory of God.

For the Glory of God

Following this advice, so that we aid the hurting, we are also following biblical commands. James informs us, “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves” (1:22 NASB). It is not just enough to think and have sympathy for others while they struggle at any time, let alone during the emotional holiday season. We must go deeper and act with empathy and love and be physically, emotionally, and spiritually present to those who need us. Caring for others can be challenging, but it is also rewarding now in this life and glorifying God in eternity. The question remains of, how do we show the love of Christ, and to be there for those who need Him, even if they do not know they do? Fortunately, Scripture provides more advice and direction than we may need. Simply look at these few verses:

  • “Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled” (Heb 12:14-15 NASB).
  • “Keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life. And have mercy on some, who are doubting” (Jude 1:21-22 NASB).
  • “Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person” (Col 4:5-6 NASB).
  • “The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Tim 2:24-25 NASB).

Goodbye Darkness

We have all faced our own darkness, and memories of those times can flood our thoughts and hearts if we let them, and sometimes when we fight against them. While we move through this glorious Advent season reflecting on and praising Jesus for what He has done, is doing, and will do, we can also praise Him by being mindful of those who need Him to bring them peace. Keep your eyes, ears, and hearts open to those hurting. Look for the small subtle signs and be kind and loving to those who need it more during this time of year. Help them to find the light and love and peace and joy that is Christ, and to say Goodbye to Darkness.

Shawn Ryan
“Theologian, dad, husband, writer, cardinals fan, and disciple of Christ.”

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