What gives you butterflies in your stomach…keeps you staring into the dark instead of sleeping…makes you want to flee to a remote island?
I made a list of some of those areas in my life, and my list may match some of yours: my career direction, the taxes coming due, my children’s struggles. Our troubling circumstances may be the same or they may be different, but shaky trust can easily be the result.
I’ve been studying the churches in Revelation 2-3, and I hope you’re studying with me. Here’s a tool I’ve been sharing if you’d like to join in.
The church at Smyrna is one of the inspiring churches in the ranks, but one sentence I read in a commentary changed the way I looked at the passage in Revelation 2: 8-11. The Teacher’s Commentary explained, “Revelation is primarily a revelation of Jesus Christ.” While I had been focusing on the churches, my gaze shifted to what this passage tells me about Jesus, His relationship with church and with me. I started connecting the dots and realized Jesus starts His words to each church with a unique revelation of who He is to them.
To the church at Smyrna He spoke of Himself as “the First and the Last, who died and came to life again”, and He called them to trust His given credentials. He is everything and therefore has power over it all. He is the One who overcame death with eternal life. The church was about to face persecution and hard circumstances, so Jesus encouraged them and stabilized their faith by reminding them of His trustworthiness.
Even though the church was going through extreme persecution and the resulting poverty, Jesus proclaimed the church rich. How can that be?
True riches are internal even though we tend to focus on the external, and Smyrna was full of riches.
You and I are probably not facing the kind of persecution Jesus was preparing the church of Smyrna for–imprisonment and possible death—but He gives us the same promises. Although our external circumstances may go awry, He is always trustworthy. He is over it all and in control of everything. When we embrace His eternal life, not even death can overcome us. We are to trust in Christ as we live in Him instead of trusting in our circumstances.
I’m thankful for Smyrna’s example and challenge to release fear. Today I choose to trust the trustworthy One. How about you?