“In the darkest night, the eternal stars shine through” (Thomas Carlyle, 1795-1881).
t takes no special genius to discern the darkness of our day. We wake to news that thousands have perished in the small hours of the night as whole buildings and economies collapsed. We tremble when we learn that entire nations may this month default on massive international debt: in this global village, their great sickness will almost certainly soon be ours. We block our ears to mute the vitriol from left and right that washes through our airwaves and pools in our satellite dishes, leaving peacemakers no place to stand. We watch in disbelief as a tide of laxity and lawlessness assaults the structures of a culture we once thought reasonably safe and upright. We weep for the day’s dead in Haiti and Afghanistan, in Darfur and Bangladesh.
And on the personal and intimate scale where we live and strive and wait, we grimace at the fading of the light. We grieve the choices old friends make to leave a marriage or leave their faith. We feel the cancer victim’s helplessness and fear: “Who will deliver me from this body of death?” We note how slowly truth advances, while error runs at breakneck speed.
And if the story ended there, we would be, in Paul’s famous words, “of all people most miserable.”
But in the darkest night, the eternal stars shine through. Our night is not without its lights. Jesus has not left His people without fixed points by which to navigate. Marvel—and rejoice—at the constellation of life-giving truths He has given to His remnant to share with the world:
Jesus, Center of It All. Image of the unseen Father, the One in whom all things hold together (Col. 1:17), His life, death, resurrection, and continuing intercession for us reveal the deep affection of the Godhead for all lost and broken people.
God’s Rest for our Restlessness. The Sabbath truth advanced by Adventism both diagnoses and helps heal the soul-sickness of a harried world, an antidote to a culture poisoned by its desperate busyness. The Divine Word that calls us to remember and keep the Sabbath is still “holy, and just, and good” (Rom. 7:12, KJV).
A Doctrine of Wellness. Unique among Christian faiths, Adventism proclaims the unity of the human self—the body as the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19), and a lifestyle focused on reclaiming the joyful and abundant life for which we were first created.
Freedom From Fear. Human beings fear death and its aftermath more than anything else, but the truth about death and the reality of the resurrection of Jesus delivers those “who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage” (Heb. 2:15, KJV). Uncounted millions long for this good news “more than those who watch for the morning” (Ps. 130:6, NKJV).*
History Has Meaning. Life on this planet began with God’s act of special creation and will be finally redeemed by His act of special recreation. In that history, God has revealed Himself to all peoples through the agency of His Word and supremely in the life of Jesus Christ (Heb. 1:1, 2), whose Second Coming will rescue His waiting saints and forever vindicate the loving character of God. There is a point—and an endpoint—to all this suffering and darkness, and Adventism’s understanding of the Great Controversy makes sense of human history as no other philosophy or faith can.
We suffer from no soft illusions: the woods in which we wander may be dark and deep, but they are hardly lovely. The reality of human sin and pain is joined to the great groaning of the whole creation, waiting for redemption (Rom. 8:22). But we do not grieve as those who have no hope, for there are stars—actually constellations—in the night sky. And He who names the stars has given us His word that all this darkness will yet end in joy immeasurable and light everlasting.
*Texts credited to NKJV are from the New King James Version. Copyright ” 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Bill Knott is the editor of the Adventist Review. This article was published April 8, 2010.