In this day and age, letter writing is a lost art. And I have to say, I miss those carefully written pages my grandmother used to send when she was my first pen pal. A letter from the Lord Jesus would be even more valuable.
That’s what He left for us in Revelation chapters two and three. In fact, this correspondence includes important letters to seven different New Testament churches. We studied them recently in our mid-week service.
The one that stood out to me was written to Smyrna. It was only four verses long but it made my mind whirl with possibilities. Welcome to the sort of reflections I expected to share on this blog when I conceived it.
Take a moment to flip to Revelation 2 and read verses 8-11. Or click here.
The first thing that jumped out at me is a simple phrase at the beginning of verse 9.
I know thy works – Revelation 2:9a
Jesus knows all about me. He knows what I’m doing, what I think, what I wish for and what I dislike. He knows my backstory and how those scars, joys, trials and victories have shaped me into the person I am today.
Even better, He knows what I will be. If I allow the Holy Ghost to work in me, Jesus sees exactly what I will act like and live like once I’m conformed into His very image. He molds me into the piece of art God always intended I should be (Ephesians 2:10).
These thoughts are both comforting and appalling. After all, there are plenty of unwholesome thoughts I’d prefer my Lord was not privy to. There are days when I can barely peel myself out of bed and push back my sense of apathy and depression. How can He love me even then?
I might not understand it, but I know He does. He loves me from before I was born until eternity. His love doesn’t change based on how I feel or act in a given moment.
That is a truth that sustains me. And it makes me want to be better, do more and honor the gift of life He’s given me.
The next verse begins with encouragement to have courage. Read that again. I almost typed “encouragement to be brave,” but being brave is often a façade. Courage is a gift of the Holy Ghost. It means He is bolstering us, keeping us upright, and doing His wonderful job as our Comforter.
Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer – Revelation 2:10a
Like most people, I have issues with fear. Mine tend to take the form of “I can’t” statements. Just when I want to pat myself on the back for not being anxious or worrying, I stub my toe on “I can’t do that” thing the Lord is impressing upon me.
Why not? Because I’m afraid. It will be ill-received. It will be misunderstood. I will botch it.
Hear Jesus say, “Fear none of those things.”
Sounds so easy. But it’s a struggle to exercise faith over fear.
The part that fascinated me the most and I’ve been pondering off and on for several days comes later in that same verse.
Ye shall have tribulation ten days – Revelation 2:10c
As we discussed this at the Bible study, everyone talked about how this statement indicated that earthly trials and tests are temporal. “This too shall pass.” And that’s great, wonderful, comforting even.
But I thought, “But to the people in Smyrna, it was prophetic. Their tribulation would only last ten days.”
On day nine, did they breathe a sigh of relief thinking, “This all ends tomorrow”? Or did they get discouraged on day five? Man, ten days feels like ten years! Deliver me already, Lord.
How would I have reacted?
In the context of the entire verse, it seems like at the end of the ten days they’re martyred. They are going to die. Which really means, they’re headed for Heaven and will get to see the face of the author of these words of encouragement and enlightenment.
What a reason to rejoice!
Except, before they get there they’ll be killed. Probably in some cruel manner since the Romans excelled at killing through tortuous means.
Ugh. Well, maybe not so excited about this then.
But in the end, I will “not be hurt of the second death” (Revelation 2:11). Amen. Thank You, Lord Jesus.
As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts and perspectives on what is written here. Do you think I’m off base? Comment on this post. Let’s start a discussion about this incredible letter from our Lord Jesus Christ to some faithful Christians.