Dear girl who seeks comfort and fears suffering,
Have you ever found yourself wishing that you could just live a life of ease? Have you ever found yourself hoping that you’ll just blend in with the crowd? Have you ever found yourself wondering why you have to experience so much heartache, even though you are following hard after God?
I know I have. Sometimes I just want to lead an easy life, to fit in instead of standing out because of my convictions, to feel comfort in the midst of what can be a lonely life. Thanks be to God that my deepest desire is to lead a life that is committed to passionately pursuing Him. But my flesh battles against the Holy Spirit within me…an easy, comfortable life has a luring appeal.
Though there is unspeakable joy found in Christ, the Christian life is not one of ease. We won’t always feel the comfort we so naturally crave. We won’t be able to fit in with the masses when we truly live out our faith. We will not feel at home in this earth until it is made new.
And that’s exactly what the church of Smyrna was experiencing when it was written a letter from God that was recorded by John in Revelation 2:8-11.
In poverty and being slandered, yet rich
The church in Smyrna was in grave condition, or so anyone with a human perspective would say. There was a group of people who claimed to be Jews that were spreading slander about the Christians in Smyrna, causing them great suffering. And the suffering was going to get worse. But God sees not as man sees.
“I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) and the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not” (Revelation 2:9).
Two key takeaways from this verse:
- In what seems like a paradoxical statement, the Christians in Smyrna are told that they are rich, despite their poverty. How is this possible? I’m reminded of James 1:2-3 which says, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
What does it mean to be perfect and complete? Perfect can be defined as “faithfully reproducing the original and complete. Can be defined as whole.” The suffering that the Christians in Smyrna were experiencing was molding them into the likeness of Christ, who is the original and who makes them whole in Him. That is how they were rich.
- 2. People who claimed to be Jews were slandering the Christians on account of Jesus’ name, causing suffering and persecution. The same can be true today. As Christians, when we stand up for biblical truths and live to bring honor to Jesus’ name, we may be slandered. People opposed to Christianity are often not content just to convince others that we’re wrong, but also that we are threatening and heartless. It may be said that we’re against women or against choice or against the LGBTQ+ community or against tolerance.
Jesus tells us in John 15:18-20, “If the world hates you, know that it hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you…If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.”
True comfort is found in knowing that any suffering and persecution is with Christ.
What crowns are you seeking after?
Even despite this reassurance that our suffering is alongside Christ, our natural bent is to seek after comfort. To pursue a life of ease. To long for a pleasant circumstances.
God doesn’t call us to an easy, comfortable life. He calls us to be faithful and steadfast through suffering and trials.
“Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:9).
For any believer who remains steadfast, rooted in Christ, there is a crown of life ready. But in our flesh, we chase after the lesser crowns of this life. Comfort. Ease. Popularity. Pleasure. Acceptance. We spend our time seeking glory for ourselves and wearing crowns that are worthless in comparison to the crown of life- like a child’s plastic tiara next to the crown of royalty.
God calls us out from chasing after crowns. He tells us to be faithful until the day of our death. And when that day comes, He promises the crown of life that makes us count our flimsy tiaras as meaningless.
What lesser crowns are you chasing after? God’s call is to surrender our flimsy tiaras, our desires for ease and pleasure and acceptance, to Him. He calls us to remain steadfast in our faith in the midst of suffering and trials, through the victorious power of Christ.
Cling to Him. Surrender all of the lesser crowns this life offers. When hardship and trials come, look to Jesus, the servant who came to earth to suffer, and take comfort in Him,
Love your fellow prone-to-comfort-seeking-but-resting- in-Christ’s-victorious-power church girl,