8 And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was de-ad, and is alive;
9 I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.
10 Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.
11 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.
The church of Smyrna was just 25 miles north of the church of Ephesus. To me it’s symbolic as well. There’s not a whole lot of distance between being on fire for the Lord Jesus, and having your world turned upside down by the troubles and trials of life. Some of which can be brought on by the fact that you’re just trying to do what the Lord called you to do.
The persecuted church of Smyrna was facing tribulations that most of us have never experienced, nor can we imagine. Facing death for our faith isn’t something that Americans understand. Most won’t even live for Jesus, dying for Him would be unimaginable. But it was a very real possibility in the days for which John wrote. And it will be again.
According to the website www.Opendoorsusa.org. An in-depth investigative report focusing on global church persecution showed “a staggering 11 Christians are killed for their faith in the top 50 countries ranked on the World Watch List.” If you’d like to read the article, here’s the link:
While most of us cannot comprehend persecution, we can certainly understand troubles and trials. I’ve had my own and I continue to watch as friends and family suffer. But what I also see is the glory of the Lord.
Last Monday I went to the Long Term Care unit of our local hospital to sing. But before I could get my guitar out of the case, a dear lady pulled me to the side and whispered in my ear, “Shari, I’ve been diagnosed with cancer again, but I’m not seeking treatment. Please just pray for my comfort.” My heart sunk. But what joy there will be in Heaven when this dear friend meets Jesus face to face, for Whom she trusts her life to. I’ll be very sad. She will be very happy!
I’ve watched friends lose children, I’ve seen marriages fall apart and watched them restored, I’ve seen others disintegrate, I’ve seen people lose their jobs and I’ve been victim of that too. But the common thread that always made my heart smile, was the fact that we all held onto hope even on the darkest days because we knew there was a better day coming.
This was John’s message to the church of Smyrna and it’s God’s message to us today. Hold on! It ain’t over until God says it’s over! We may, or we may not have the victory we desire on this earth. But either way, Satan’s going to lose.
This brief and not so in-depth study of the book of Revelation is stirring my soul for Heaven. I’m tired. And not just because of the physical stress. But because of the spiritual stress on my soul. I’m back in the workforce on a part time basis which allows me to continue my ministry work and pay my bills. Win! But what it also does is put me back into the world where I see firsthand the brokenness of society. It’s not that I didn’t know it was there. But being home every day allowed me to retreat into my world more often. Now, one day on the job and I realize I’m among it; and we are not winning that battle.
This world is under the curse of sin and the power of Satan. So what’s a girl to do? Keep reading… the war ain’t over.