It is said that there are "no atheists in foxholes." It often happens that people in times of great danger or fear or struggle, what we refer to as "dark times," reach out for help. Think of Jimmy Stewart's character George Bailey in It's a Wonderful Life, head hung low in a dark bar, facing embezzlement charges for his uncle's absent-mindedness, praying, "Dear Father in heaven, I'm not a praying man, but if you're up there and you can hear me, show me the way. I'm at the end of my rope. Show me the way, dear God." There is something to dark times inspiring people to give faith a chance.
Certainly there were plenty of people in Jesus' day experiencing dark times and willing to give the one described as "the light of the world" a chance. There are plenty of people in our day experiencing dark times; I hope they will give Jesus a chance.
What I also hope is that George Bailey didn't forget God once his load was lightened, that those Jesus brightened and enlightened through healing and helping and teaching and saving wouldn't forget him when their days improved. I hope we don't, either.
That flashlight or lamp that's very noticeable at night and is much more discreet during the day is putting off the same amount of light whether night or day. God is gracing us whether we are in a desperate situation or life is going quite well.
The Footprints poem about God carrying us through the difficult times is instructive in that it acknowledges God's help carrying us through the hard times, but also in that God doesn't abandon us in the good times - God is lovingly walking alongside us in those times.
I hope that when you see lights this week, you'll think of Jesus. And whether the lights are piercing the darkness or more obscured in the brighter times, you'll recognize that God is always with us and always deserves our prayers of petition and thanksgiving. God deserves more than prayers from foxholes and we deserve more of a relationship with God than prayers when we're at the end of our ropes.
The Light is shining day and night. Don't let the brighter times obscure that.