“The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death Light has dawned.”Matthew 4:16
There is something quite mesmerising as you watch the sun rise at dawn, with its unique beauty, that is different every day. Science would tell us it is even beneficial: producing the right dose of Melatonin to help set our body clock; and Sun rays (infrared, blue light) that develop our natural vitamin D, charge our body, and even slowing the ageing of our skin (by boosting collagen).
These are perhaps some of the reasons I have often find myself up at this time of the morning, or before, trying to capture this moment with my own eyes and the camera.
But I am not alone. As I lived on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland (Australia) recently for the last 11 years, I noticed that whether you were by the sea or on a mountain, you would inevitably find people waiting at all sorts of hours for the sun to rise..which in summer was just after 4am! People would just sit there, waiting in the darkness, for it the part of our nation the sun rises quickly.
It became obvious to me that this was perhaps not just because of the natural beauty and benefits, but also because of the hope it brings. While a few took pictures, including young women showing of their latest fashions to the social media world, most just sat there and watched.
They watched, as darkness gave way to light; They watched as yesterday became history, and a new day emerged full of potential that did not come before.
Intrinsically, most people are aware that the beginning of a new day brings hope – the chance of something new. And thus sunrise, marks this sign of hope. Without being said, many know it is darkest before the dawn, but the sun does rise…every day. No matter how dark it might get, the sun does rise. As Annie sang, with the backdrop of the Great Depression, ‘the sun does come up tomorrow’.
This sentiment, while true, I believe has a much deeper origin. For as God made all things, including us, He evidenced in us and throughout creation, the coming of The Son, Jesus Christ. This Everlasting Son brings a hope light that, despite all the darkness of the world or our souls, will give peace and eternal joy. I believe those seeking this, will often find themselves drawn to the sun rise, being led to find the more eternal light, and the rising of the Son of God in their hearts.
The early disciples of Jesus, having faced and lived their darkest hour, saw the new day of Easter Sunday bring hope with Christ appearing at the rising of the sun. Thus, fulfilling the prophecies of old, and the promises Jesus made to His disciples. ‘The Sun of Righteousness did rise with healing in His wings’, having ‘defeated sin and death’. And the reality of this victory, and the Second Coming of Christ, was so strong for them, that they endured so much, counting trials and suffering all joy, for the sake of knowing Him and His coming, and the greater eternal life His gives.
The Apostle Paul stating, ‘Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal’ (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).
And so, as we stand watching the sunrise, perhaps even on one of the most significant days in the Christian calendar (Easter Sunday), we do so knowing not only that the dawning of a new day brings the hope of something better, confining the past to darkness, but that, as the Bible says, God’s mercies and compassions are new every day, and that Jesus will return, completing the eternal life He promised for those who believe in Him, one without tears, pain, and fear.
All this can help us look past what the nation and ourselves have faced, particularly in the past few years, (with its fires, floods, financials hardships, pandemics, and wars), knowing, by the enabling of the Holy Spirit, the hope of eternity and the coming of Christ. Even making it all seem like a light affliction (despite the many trials faced)!
His rising is indeed even more certain than the rising of the earth’s sun, and so our hope is everlasting, and not just for another day.
As sunrise became for me such a wonderful reminder of this eternal hope we have, I found the regular journey at dawn quite helpful as I endured through quite a number of significant personal trials, involving health, finances, housing, jobs, in the last few years.
Each new dawning day speaking to my soul of God’s eternal hope and life for me and reminding me that He was there waiting for me in the day ahead, as much as He walked with me in the days gone by. Healing did come in the light of the Sun of Righteousness, and so to the assuredness that the darkness will pass. Being back in Tasmania, in some ways is evidence of hope fulfilled. Blessed with a deeper revelation of the Father’s love, and that new days do come…albeit taking longer than I may like at times.
My prayer is that we all find our own story of hope as we ponder the rising of the Son and reflect on the certain good that is coming.