In our first reading from Isaiah we have the actual text from the prophet, which is not exactly as Matthew gives it to us in the Gospel. The prophecy ends on a very positive note:
The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;...
[God has] brought them abundant joy..
For the yoke that burdened them,...
you have smashed, as on the day of Midian. (Isaiah 9:1-3)
What is this "day of Midian"? Midian was a great and powerful nation southeast of Israel. For many years it had periodically plundered and raided the Israelites. This was the moment when Gideon was made a judge to protect and defend God's people. Gideon raised an army of 10,000 warriors, but God thought that was too many and sent all but 300 home. Besides that, he did not allow those left to use any weapons. The Israelites would defeat their enemy with horns, empty clay jars and torches.
God did not need 10,000 soldiers to destroy Midian. He didn't even need 300. They were only an example of how much their faith enabled God to act through them to overcome danger. The same holds true for each of us. In the many battles and struggles of life, often all we can really do is pray to God for his help. Pray for guidance--to know God's will--and strength, to do it and carry it to the end.
Nothing in this world is secure and lasting--no nation, no continent, not even the mighty stars. Only God and what he wills is lasting. One of the things God wills to last forever is us--and our immortal souls. What are we doing to make ourselves ready for eternity? Each of our daily choices goes into the "mix" of our eternity. May our sins and tendencies toward evil "be smashed as on the day of Midian".