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The Light Shines on a Dark Christmas

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The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine. (Isaiah 9:2 NLT)

Have you ever tried to celebrate Christmas while you were going through a painful season of life? Perhaps things were so dark you literally felt like you were under the shadow of death? In Corrie Ten Boom’s book, Corrie’s Christmas Memories, she recalls a Christmas she spent in Ravensbruck, a concentration camp she was sent to for helping hide Jews during World War II. Her sister, Betsie, had died only 11 days earlier. The day after Betsie passed, Corrie discovered she was released. In order to leave, though, Corrie needed a declaration of health from the camp doctor. Unfortunately, the doctor diagnosed her with edema, and he sent her to recover in the hospital barracks. Corrie describes that agonizing Christmas:

Dark it was in my heart, and darkness was around me... I tried to talk to the people around me about Christmas, but they mocked, ridiculed, and sneered at whatever I said.

In the middle of that lonely Christmas night, Corrie recalled hearing a “feeble-minded” girl in a bed near her calling out, “Mommy! Come to Oelie. Oelie feels so alone.” Knowing the girl’s mother could not go to Oelie, Corrie got up from her bed to comfort her. As a dim light shined through the window next to Oelie’s bed, Corrie could see that even though the girl was reduced to skin and bones, she still had a “sweet face, beautiful eyes and wavy hair.” Recovering from an operation, the incision on Oelie’s back was covered in nothing but a makeshift bandage of toilet paper. Corrie recalls what happened next:

That night I told this poor child about Jesus. How He came into the world as a little baby—how He came to save us from our sins.

“The Lord Jesus loves Oelie and has borne her punishment on the cross. Now Oelie may go to heaven, and Jesus is there right now. He is getting a little house ready for Oelie.” Later I asked her what she remembered of what I told her.

“What is the little house like?” I asked.

“It is very beautiful. There are no wicked people as in Ravensbruck—only good people and angels. And Oelie will see Jesus there.”

The child added, “I will ask Jesus to make me brave when I have pain. I will think of the pain that Jesus suffered to show Oelie the way to heaven.” Then Oelie folded her hands; together we gave thanks.

Then I knew why I had to spend this Christmas in Ravensbruck in 1944.

Jesus said, “I have come as a light to shine in this dark world, so that all who put their trust in me will no longer remain in the dark” (John 12:46). I love how Jesus met Corrie and Oelie in the hospital barracks of Ravensbruck, bringing love and light to one of the most horrific death camps in Germany.

If you are facing gloom, despair or darkness this Christmas, take heart. Just as Corrie found purpose in her pain, you can also ask Jesus, the “great light” of Christmas, to bring beauty and hope into your circumstances.


(excerpts from Corrie’s Christmas Memories, chapter 4, pages 56-57)

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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About The Author

Lori Stewart
Wilkerson Stewart

Lori Wilkerson Stewart (M.A. in Journalism, Regent University) is a line producer for The 700 Club (2008-2023) and the author of Promises for Prodigals (Guy/Girl versions). Lori and her husband Matt are the senior pastors of Harvest Assembly in Chesapeake, VA. The couple is crazy about their three adult children and two Rhodesian Ridgebacks.

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