The Letter to the Church in Smyrna in a Nutshell:
The church in Smyrna was under pressure. Jesus says I know your affliction and poverty yet you are rich. He tells them He is aware people are persecuting them, and that they are going to have more sufferings but to stay faithful. He goes on to say that the victor will never be harmed by the second death.
Jesus had nothing bad to say about the church in Smyrna. They were doing good, and by that, I mean as my wife would say they were not “doing” but “being.” There was no fault that needed to be brought up. They were tight in theology and love.
There is actually quite a bit that could be discussed in Jesus’s address to the church in Smyrna. We could come at this from a few different angles and if this was a sermon then I probably would but because we are just trying to bring this home to where we live I’ll try my best to stay there.
The church or more specifically the people in the church were being persecuted and attacked for their faith in Jesus. Now this still happens in parts of the world, but I don’t want to talk about persecution except to say remember to pray for and find ways to serve those who are persecuted. There are people all over the world who are run out of their homes, attacked, threatened, and killed because they trust the name of Jesus.
Here is the thing I think we should take away from this letter…Jesus Knows. He calls Himself the first and the last and says that He knows their affliction or trouble. That is something we should take comfort in. Knowing that Jesus who sits at the right hand of the Father and lives to make intercession for us knows what we are going through should help you go through it. Now this is where faith comes in. If He knows why then why doesn’t He change the situation? I can’t answer that because I have no idea. I mean maybe it is something you need to go through to help someone, help yourself, learn something, maybe you never get to know. I am sure that sounds like a copout, but I would be overstretching if I tried to answer why you are going through what you are going through. Part of me wants to be able to tell someone why they are going through what they are going through but honestly there can be so many reasons (including you did it to yourself) but in the end, we live in a fallen world.
What we have to do is go beyond the question of why and just know that He is aware. He is not caught off guard when His people suffer. We could play the comparison game where you tell me what you are going through and then I try and top you and we go back and forth, but that does not actually accomplish anything. Instead, what I can do is tell you that Jesus loves you. He sees your pain, your hurt, and He cares deeply. Think about when Lazarus died. Some say that Jesus wept for Lazarus, but I have always held a different view. I have always thought that Jesus wept not for Lazarus but because of effects of sin. Lazarus was dead because he lived in a fallen world where death happens. Just remember Jesus knows, He not only knows, but He cares. Take a minute and just pray, tell Him why you are hurting. Be honest about it. It is not so He will know, but so you can get it out. You let it out and let Him in. He has made you the victor!
Just a thought,