I have a friend who spent a year in Nunavut, the third territory in Canada’s vast north. There are many interesting facts about Nunuvat. First of all, the territory covers almost a million square miles of land and water, including most of the Arctic and all the islands in Hudson Bay and James Bay. If you were to open up an atlas to Canada, the area covers the top half of the double page. If Nunavut were a country, it would be the 15th largest in land mass in the world, but despite its size, only about 30,000 people live there.
Another interesting fact about Nunavut is that in the dead of winter, the sun appears for less than an hour in some places, which means people live in complete darkness for a large portion of the winter.
My friend, who spent the year there teaching, said the darkness seeps into your bones until you feel like there is no hope. The suicide rate of Nunavut, for a number of reasons, is six times higher than the national average.
Have you ever found yourself in complete darkness? Perhaps the power went out in a storm at night or you were camping in the woods on a cloudy night when the darkness was thick. You might have groped around for familiar pieces of furniture or your flashlight. Remember the sense of relief when the flashlight turned on and your path was lit up again? Perhaps you know someone who is visually impaired who lives his or her days in darkness.
The Bible uses light and darkness often as a means to teach about the wonderful light that is Jesus Christ. In a world of sin where you may feel life’s darkness closing in on you, the Bible gives us hope. Isaiah 60:1-3 gives us a picture of Jesus’ coming to shed his light on the earth:
Arise, Jerusalem! Let your light shine for all to see.
In John 1:6-9, we read about God’s preparation for Jesus’ arrival on this earth, and the dominant image is the light that Christ will bring to the world:
For the glory of the Lord rises to shine on you.
Darkness as black as night covers all the nations of the earth,
but the glory of the Lord rises and appears over you.
All nations will come to your light;
mighty kings will come to see your radiance.
God sent a man, John the Baptist, to tell about the light so that everyone might believe because of his testimony. John himself was not the light; he was simply a witness to tell about the light. The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone was coming into the world. (NLT)
Later, in John 8:12, Jesus makes the image of himself as light even more vivid for us: “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.
One of the most famous Bible passages, one that has been turned into song countless times, can be found in Psalm 119:105: “Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path” (NLT).
I like this image. I don’t know about you, but as I walk life’s dark paths with my family, friends, and colleagues, having the light of Jesus Christ to shine on my way give me peace. I can trust that I won’t stumble, that I will see hazards ahead, and that my aggressors will see me coming and know what I’m about. It’s a peace that passes all understanding.
Wherever you are in the northern or southern hemisphere, however light or dark your days, may Jesus’ light shine upon your face today.