Tonight is Christmas Eve and the season of Advent has come to a close. Advent, as many know, is the season of waiting. During Advent, we remember Israel’s wait for their Messiah’s coming. We wait with anticipation to celebrate the Birth of Our Lord, Jesus Christ. And we wait for Christ to come again in all the fullness of God to usher in a just kingdom.

So many things in life involve waiting. Waiting to hear about a loved one’s illness, waiting for the birth of a child, waiting for that dream job or dream school to let us know our future, waiting to hear the results of a medical test. When we’re worried about the outcome we wait anxiously. But when we know that what we are waiting for will make us happy, we often wait with joy.

The latter type of waiting is what the Advent season is all about. Waiting with Joy.

Waiting with joy can be hard in these dark winter months when the earth walks into its death cycle before being reborn in the spring. And for some, the holidays make that even harder. It can be difficult to wait with joy if you’re far from the ones you loved, if you’re embroiled in family strife, or if the loves of your life have passed on to eternal life and left you here to take care of what is left behind. All the celebration and joy of the season can actually make these days even darker and lonelier for those who walk in darkness.

For me, the beauty of Advent has always been in the deep darkness of the season. The dark is hard. We don’t want to stay there. But when we linger long enough in the darkness, we have the opportunity to find the deepest of joys that lasts far after the celebrations are over. Finding joy in the darkness helps us to conquer the most oppressive powers of the world because once we do find that joy, no one can take it away with us.

If during these days of celebration you find yourself weighed down by sadness, if you’re facing a dark situation head on, or if you’re just overwhelmed by the continued injustice in this world, don’t be afraid to sit in the darkness.

Just sit there.

The promise of Christmas is that True Joy is born in the darkest night. And as followers of the God born into darkness, we can trust that Jesus will come again in our dark moments and slowly illuminate our lives with joy.