There is an irony, both sweet and sad, in the fact that millions of Seventh-day Adventists around the globe will note the 175th […]
There is an irony, both sweet and sad, in the fact that millions of Seventh-day Adventists around the globe will note the 175th anniversary this month of what we still call “The Great Disappointment.”
It is sweet because the Spirit used the near-despair of that October day in 1844 to spark deeper study of the Scriptures by a tiny band of disappointed men and women who had staked everything on the belief that Jesus would return to earth. Their intensive investigation of the Word led to an awareness of the importance of the heavenly sanctuary in God’s plan of salvation, a recovery of the truth about the seventh-day Sabbath, and a rediscovery of God’s Edenic plan for human health and wholeness. Tens of millions of people around the world have lived healthier, happier, and yes, holier lives in the unfolding of that disappointing day.
But 175 years of waiting for the second coming of our Saviour and Best Friend is, by any measure, a special sadness as well. Followers of Jesus will never be fully content until they are in the physical presence of the Lord who showed how much He valued our material reality by becoming one of us. Grace, at its heart, requires a day—actually, an eternity—of embrace and conversation, for gratitude can never fully be expressed in any one-time “thank you.” The same divinely-given love that makes us seek the presence of other believers every Sabbath also makes us ache until that day when distance and separation will themselves disappear in the reality of being with Jesus.
Six weeks after the discouraging day of October 22, 1844, several lines were written that still guide my life’s journey as a committed Seventh-day Adventist. William Miller, the Baptist farmer who had spent years preaching his belief that Jesus would return to earth as the climax of the 2,300-day prophecy of Daniel 8—wrote these remarkable words: “I have fixed my mind upon another time, and here I mean to stand until God gives me more light.—And that is Today, TODAY, and TODAY, until He comes, and I see HIM for whom my soul yearns.”1
These are words for a worldwide fellowship both defined and empowered by its willingness to wait until the Bridegroom appears. That’s why the church I want to belong to is . . . ready for Jesus.
1 William Miller, in The Midnight Cry, Dec. 5, 1844, p. 180.