Apr 15, 2018
It’s easy to get discouraged. Even as believers in Jesus Christ, we can find ourselves hammered by the circumstances of life and begin to lose hope. This can happen churches as well, as is illustrated in Jesus’ words to the church in Smyrna reveal. Revelation 2:9-11 gives us a bit of insight and encouragement regarding churches that find themselves going through difficult days. It’s not always easy. The world doesn’t always like us or welcome us with open arms. And the church in Smyrna was a struggling congregation that was surrounded by worldliness and suffering from constant persecution. On top of that, they were poor. They were a financially strapped church made up of members with limited resources, but plenty of problems. So, what does Jesus have to say to these people? Well, He doesn’t assure them that everything is going to be okay. In fact, He’s going to tell them that more suffering is headed their way. It’s going to get worse before it gets better. He doesn’t promise them immediate relief or a miraculous deliverance. No, He tells them that some of them are going to end up in prison. Some might even face death. But even with that sobering reality staring them in the face, Jesus will tell them to remain faithful. But why? What’s their motivation? How in the world are they supposed to endure the continued suffering headed their way without losing heart and giving up all hope? The answer is found in what Jesus describes as the crown of life He will give them. In other words, Jesus wants them to focus on their reward to come, not their suffering to come. He wanted them to look further down the road, to the day when God restores all things, and glorifies His people. There was going to be a very happy ending to their personal nightmare. This story was going to turn out well. And Jesus encouraged them to remain faithful because their God was faithful.