“And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: ‘The words of the first and the last, who died and came to life.

“‘I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) . . .

– Revelation 2:8-9a (ESV)

I’ve been thinking about tribulation lately. I have been blessedly free of it for most of my adult life, which seems strange. And somewhat disconcerting. The biggest opposition I face, in general, is of the level of someone misunderstanding or misrepresenting something I posted.

Don’t get me wrong; I do not strive for tribulation. And I thank God every day for the goodness he has showered on me.

But I also am beginning to understand, I think, why tribulation is good. I may put this into words soon (just not right now – I think I’m too tired to do it justice). So instead I just wanted to point out the virtue of Smyrna, that embattled and poverty stricken little church that Christ honors in the early chapters of the Revelation. Jesus reminds them that he is the one who has died and come back to life.

Knowing this, what on earth can we fear? He is alive, and even death was unable to defeat him. He is the first and last. When you think of it, he is the first and the last Word. There is nothing to fear.

And he blesses little Smyrna, one of the two churches (the other is Philadelphia) of which nothing bad is said in the letters to the churches of Revelation. He sees their poverty, and pronounces them rich! He sees their tribulation. And he honors it.

More on tribulation later (I hope). But I’m inspired by Smyrna, in their poverty glorified and in their tribulation comforted by Jesus Christ himself, who became poor for us and suffered for our good. Praise his name forever!

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