Revelation 2:10 Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, 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. (KJV)
John the Apostle is recording his vision given to him by Christ Jesus. This is a letter from Christ to His Bride (the seven churches) and specifically the church of Smyrna. This church is the only one who received only encouragement and no point of reprimand. This His most faithful Bride despite grave hardship and poverty. (I heard a thought today of “we often grow more like Christ in adversity and reveal His very nature during times of hardship.”)
Christ encourages this body of believers and tells them they WILL suffer: Suffer for ten days (remember a day is a thousand years and a thousand years is a day II Peter 3:8). In that ten days God who is in control of everything will use the enemy as an agent of HIS agenda for spreading the gospel in high places as Christ followers are incarcerated, taken to trial and many executed. The faithfulness of these believers is seen in a public display. Then, Jesus promises His Bride a CROWN. The crown is eternal life.
How does holy God in His sovereignty use satan on a leash and allow suffering even unto death for His purposes? I cannot explain it but from Scripture we know it is true. Joseph’s brothers did a very evil thing when they sold their brother into slavery. God used this act of evil, (for which those brothers are totally responsible, they made a choice,) to save a nation from starvation and insure the lineage of Christ is preserved. It took years and we have the luxury of hindsight for this story. But, what about our own story? We are so quick to judge God when He does not answer our prayers IMMEDIATELY!
John 16:33 we read, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”
In John 21:18-19 John writes of Jesus speaking to Peter these words, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdest thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not.
19 This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me.”
II Timothy 3:12 is a verse we like to ignore: “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”
I Peter 4:16 reminds us, “Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.”
**Acts 14:44 states clearly, “Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.
**II Corinthians 1:3-4 is a much loved Scripture, “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;
4 Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.”
Ann Voskamp wrote in her blog A Holy Experience, “When did we begin to think the Christian life is about putting on accessories instead of putting on armor?” Life is a battle.
C.S. Lewis wrote “If you think of this world as a place simply intended for our happiness, you find it quite intolerable: think of it as a place for training and correction and it’s not so bad.”
One thing I have come to understand: This world is the only hell I will ever know and for many it is the only heaven they will ever experience. Knowing I have eternity and this life is but a blink in time makes the trials of this life easier to bear. This is GOOD NEWS I want to share!
Suffering is not optional. It is part of the human experience on planet earth. How I respond to it is very optional. My God given free will allows me to choose! We were repeatedly warned suffering will occur. We are also given promises of rewards when we endure persecution with eyes looking to Jesus as our source of strength. Trusting Him for the outcome.
Treading water til Jesus comes was born out of God’s desire to encourage and comfort us through His Word as we journey together through the often stormy waters. He has told us “you will have problems!” He also states emphatically, He has overcome the world and the ruler of this world. He has the keys! He has crushed the enemies head! No matter what is thrown at us, we are guaranteed victory. As this study of “fear nots” draws near to a close, it is my prayer you have been blessed. I have learned much and my Chicken Little heart has been strengthened and my heart truly knows I am safe in His arms! FEAR NOT!