It never is as you think it is. There is always a different side to the story.
Moving on to the second church, Smyrna, it teaches us to see things differently to how others might. We see a list of contrasts:
He is the First but He is also the Last.
He died but He came back to life again.
You are struggling and have lost but you are rich.
You have been slandered by so called people of God but they’re not.
They came from a synagogue, a place of worship to God, but it was a place for Satan, the liar.
You will have to go through tough times but you will be crowned with life.
Perhaps only a couple of decades after this was being sent around the churches, the Bishop of Smyrna, Polycarp, the angel/messenger of the church, was put to death. Burnt at the stake simply because of slanderous lies which damaged his reputation. They must have relied heavy on this letter from Jesus to understand what was taking place.
“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. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who is victorious will not be hurt at all by the second death.” (Revelation 2 v 8-11)
Suffering is coming. It’s here. So hold on, don’t back away under the trial, endure and bear with it a bit longer. Jesus had already said we will have trouble in this world. But to take heart because he has overcome the world.
Jesus told Smyrna it would be a time of testing. That’s the use of the phrase, ‘ten days’ and it is found in Daniel 1:12-14.
Jesus didn’t say ‘don’t worry this suffering won’t hurt you’ nor did he say ‘you won’t die’. But he did say you will come out on top in the end.
It’s a life of contrasts. So today remember you carry the name above all names. And your life is one of contrasts. The Apostle Paul tells us, “We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body”. 2 Corinthians 4:10
So in whatever affliction you are experiencing stay where you are today. There is in the suffering a hidden mystery. It is Jesus Himself. The impatient miss Him. They want to move on and move out. And in doing so they miss the fellowship of Jesus in the sufferings.
Being patient doesn’t mean you do nothing. It is not limbo. You are not wasting any time. And above all you realise that there is a contrasting truth to whatever you are going through.
The key principle for every follower of Christ regardless of whether they are the last generation or not is this: suffering will not last forever, the Son is coming and at the end of this is Jesus because He was there at the beginning. Learn to look on the other side.