During the Christmas season, there are lights everywhere we look: on our beautifully decorated Christmas trees, wrapped in the garland on our mantles, coming from our glowing fireplaces, or outside our homes, lining our roofs, wrapped around our trees and nestled neatly in our bushes. Even in the midst of so much light, however, it can be hard to ignore the darkness that surrounds us all, whether it’s financial trouble, marital problems, the death of a loved one or, as was the case with my family just a year ago, a horrifying medical diagnosis. We can all admit that, no matter how much light we see around us, darkness surrounds us.

No amount of manufactured light can calm your spirits, comfort your family or mend your broken heart. The only light that can accomplish these things is the light of the Holy Spirit, for it is only in him that we find comfort in the darkest of times.

I will never forget the moment we all got the news that my mom was diagnosed with grade-three, triple-negative breast cancer. This particular cancer is one of the most unpredictable and aggressive types of breast cancer. Treatment began quickly and, with that, so did the horrific side effects of the chemotherapy. Sickness, weakness and extreme exhaustion quickly became the new , as was the knowledge that this Christmas just wouldn’t be the same. All of the traditions and festivities that had always been a huge part of our lives were pushed to the side as we all dealt with the reality of the cancer. And anyone that has experienced cancer knows that it doesn’t just affect the patient, but the ones closest to them as well. Darkness was upon us, but I promise you this: if you were on the outside looking in, you never would’ve known it. The light of Christ was shining so heavily in the midst of this extremely dark time that it was impossible not to be blinded by it. He was our refuge, our comfort and our strength. Never have we felt his light shine so brightly or draw so near.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
— John 1:5

A year later, in the midst of this Christmas season, we are praising God for bringing us out of that darkness and healing my mom from her cancer. We will never forget that, in this season filled with artificial light and overwhelming darkness, we can still find refuge in the eternal light who is Christ Jesus.