What is unique about chapters two and three of Revelation is that Jesus himself is the speaker to seven different churches. Today’s lesson is addressed to the church at Smyrna, a large and beautiful port city in the ancient world. Jesus was letting the believers in Smyrna know that they were about to experience some severe persecution. They need not be fearful, but faithful because their Lord knows all about suffering. The church’s perseverance under such trouble would result in the crown of life, given to them by Jesus himself. This was surely an encouragement to the believers as they underwent difficulty.
The congregation at Smyrna was facing imprisonment and, for some, even death for their faith. The heart of the message by Jesus is to remain faithful. There will always be cowards among the church who will fold when the going gets tough. But persecution and hardship have a way of purging the soul and the church of its dross. Suffering is inevitable; how we handle it is completely under our own control.
Few of us will ever likely face a hardship that could result in martyrdom. So, how much more we really ought to be able to deal with the daily irritations and trials that God puts in our way in order to refine us and shape our faith. Jesus is not looking for perfect people, just faithful followers willing to endure suffering with the truth that our Lord stands with us.
King Jesus, you have something to say to all of us in the church who follow you. Enable me with spiritual courage and resolve so that I might endure every hardship with Christian forbearance, mercy, and understanding that eternal life awaits me. Amen.