Revelation 2:8-10 “To the angel of the church in Smyrna write: These are the words of him who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again. I know your afflictions and your poverty—yet you are rich! I know about the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown.”
Smyrna was located 35 miles north of Ephesus in Asia Minor on the coast of the Aegean Sea. The city supported Rome for over 200 years and was the main seat of emperor worship—the largest Asian temple was dedicated to Emperor Tiberius. The Jewish community had a bitter conflict with the Christians. They were leveraging their relationship with Rome for the sake of the Christian community. These half-truths were destroying the peace and unity of the church. In fact, men were being placed in prison under false allegations. Satan was stirring up slander against the church in Smyrna. The tragic response of many of the Christians in the atmosphere of conflict is to disappear. Jesus reminds them of His identity. He is the First and the Last, the Alpha and the Omega, who died and came to life again. Jesus knows their afflictions. Jesus challenges them, “Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer.” Why? Because He has been in their place of suffering. He knows the pain of enduring false allegations, even to the point of suffering on a cross. Jesus challenges the church in Smyrna to “be faithful, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown.” The promise to our endurance of suffering is God’s faithful crown of life. We need to discover that every trial of suffering is an opportunity for growth. Think about it, our faith grows not on the mountain tops but in the valleys of suffering. Authentic faith grows in the furnace of suffering.
Pray for endurance. Pray for endurance to trust God in the furnace of suffering this morning. Don’t be afraid of the fire, put your trust in the One who has been through the fire.