Of all the churches mentioned here, only the one in Smyrna and the one in Philadelphia receive no words of rebuke from Jesus. Everything that He has to say about them is positive and encouraging. The name Smyrna means ‘bitter’ and is related to the word ‘myrrh.’ The city remains to this day in modern Turkey, only it is referred to as ‘Izmir.’
Smyrna was the church that had experienced pain for the cause of Christ. The church was persecuted for their faith, and this explains why Jesus emphasized His own suffering as He begins His letter to them. No matter what our painful experiences are in life, we have a Savior who always identifies and sympathizes with us. When Jesus looked into the ministry there at Smyrna, He found a faithful band of disciples who were suffering for His sake. They were poor in the world’s goods, but they were rich where it really mattered. They may not have enjoyed human approval, but they most definitely received divine commendation. Jesus assured the believers in Smyrna that He knew full well the enemy’s plans. He wanted them to be confident in the fact that He was in complete control of their situation. As they were faithful unto death, they had a crown of life to look forward to!
Don’t think that you have to have a lot of ‘stuff’ to really make an impact for Christ in the world. Ironically, when the church has been poor, it has been the most powerful. If we are not careful, our ‘stuff’ can become a barrier to knowing the power and presence of Christ to the fullest. Suffering has a way of bringing us into deeper and closer fellowship with the Lord. Thus, pain can be profitable if it brings me closer to Jesus.
For more, read Revelation 2:8-11