Have you have ever pondered the challenges of suffering for your faith? As you read the Scriptures and gain an understanding of how difficult it was for people to follow Jesus have you wondered whether you would sacrifice all to be that follower? I think about this often and hope and pray that if I am called upon to suffer for the cause of Christ that I would do so courageously and in complete trust and dependence on my Saviour and Lord.
The church at Smyrna was a church that Jesus praised and commended. It was a church where the people maintained their first love. It was a church that suffered because of their love for Jesus. In our text today we go into difficult waters where we will be challenged to see the ‘glory of suffering’ and the rewards that come with it. It is a challenging passage of Scripture because it is so different to what the world teaches us at almost every level.
Jesus opens our eyes to witness four types of suffering in this church that was located in a bustling and cosmopolitan city. It touches on poverty, slander, imprisonment and death. He shares with us that we must not be afraid and that if we remain faithful despite the suffering that may come our way we will gain the crown of life! We will also not have to face the second death which is all about the lake of fire mentioned later in Revelation.
As I prepared for this week’s sermon my mind was overwhelmed with the stories of many men and women down through history who have faced suffering because of their love of Jesus. Today in the nations of Malaysia, The Philippines, Indonesia, Nigeria and a host of Middle Eastern nations there are people who are suffering in these same four areas viz. poverty, slander, imprisonment and death. God’s church continues to stand strong despite the handiwork of our evil adversary. I hope that today you will be greatly encouraged by Jesus’ testimony of these faithful Christians gathered together at Smyrna! I know that I have been! And for those of you who are undergoing suffering because of Jesus, be encouraged because God is faithful and He will deliver on His amazing promises!