Revelations 2, 8-11. And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive; I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan. Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: be hold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.
Struggles and trials all the time for every follower of Christ! Faithfulness unto the end, — and then eternal victory and glory! The devil hates us bitterly, and lies in wait for us with consuming anger. He brings heavy misfortune on the patient Job; he follows Paul everywhere, and buffets him; he makes the saints in Smyrna to suffer reproach and shame and tribulation. But the Lord, who loves us with a burning love, permits this, “that we may be tried,” that thus our faith and patience may increase, and the lusts die. Jesus has gone before us through death, and has opened the way; but now he lives, and guards our every step. He knows your works, and values your unassuming faithfulness, which the world holds in derision. He sees your tribulation and poverty; — and this is the true riches; for the kingdom of heaven is yours. He keeps faithful watch over his sheep day and night; guides them by the leading-strings of love as by a mother’s hand. Fear, then, none of those things which you shall suffer; the suffering is brief and light as compared with the glory; it is good and necessary as a preparation for heaven; it is Christ’s own suffering, and shall never become greater than you can bear. Be faithful unto death! Let the heart belong entirely and forever to the Lord. The devil employs his craftiness in the effort to entice you away from the Lord. He therefore tries to kindle the lusts in you, and to awaken unbelief. impatience, and other sins; but the Lord makes use of this to give you humility, that you may remain true to your first love for Jesus as the friend of sinners, and that the devil himself may thus become your servant, and that all those things which seem calculated to injure you may but benefit the new life in you. Be faithful, then! “God works in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure”; but for that very reason you must watch, and work out your salvation; — something which God has made it possible for you to do. Therefore it is in every way such a terrible thing that so many divorce their hearts from the Lord. They might have remained with him; and yet they have plunged themselves into perdition! — If you, dear reader, have been unfaithful, but now desire mercy; then do you return, and receive forgiveness, and remain with the Lord hereafter. Hear the voice of Jesus himself: “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life!” Does not your heart burn within you when you hear him address these words to you? Be faithful — faithful unto death — for my sake!
He expects you to be willing to give your life for him. Do not fail him, then; himself will give you grace to be faithful, and will thereafter make you a partaker of his glory. In the words of Kempis, he shall “give you honor in place of shame, the palm of joy in place of sadness, an eternal throne in his kingdom in place of the most humble position on earth; there the fruit of your obedience shall be revealed, and there the bitterness of death shall bring happiness, and humble submission shall give you a crown of glory.”
Tribulation and suffering for “ten days”; — victory and life forever! Be faithful, brethren; let the whole heart be the Lord’s forever! The love of the Lord’s bride be sacred and pure!
Lord Jesus, I feel thy celestial fire in my soul; but it bums feebly, and many things threaten to smother it. Do thou protect it, and let it burn more brightly every day unto my dying hour. Alas, I would be too weak to die for thee; and yet, Lord Jesus, by thy grace I would be able to do it in spite of my weakness. Amen.
Stand then in his great might,
With all his strength endued;
And take, to arm you for the fight.
The panoply of God;
That, having all things done,
And all your conflicts past,
Ye may o’ercome through Christ alone
And stand complete at last.