Slow your breathing and become aware of the taking in and letting out of your breath. Focus on putting things aside so you will be open to what God is saying to you today.
Revelation 2:8-11 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
“And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: These are the words of the first and the last, who was dead and came to life:
“I know your affliction and your poverty, even though you are rich. I know the slander on the part of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Beware, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison so that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have affliction. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches. Whoever conquers will not be harmed by the second death.
We often have to deal with drama in the lives of those we love. We may think they are trials and tribulations when it taxes our strength and resolve. We may even feel that we are undergoing persecution because we are trying to live as Christ expects. However, we really don’t know what persecution is. The city of Smyrna was a wealthy city until they were overrun by Lydans and was subjugated for 400 years.
Smyrna became a small community with houses strewn over the mountainside until incorporated into the Roman empire and began to flourish. The small Christian church in Smyrna underwent real persecution as Christianity was illegal in the Roman government. Arrests and executions occurred daily. Their religious leader Polycarp had been burned alive. People claiming to be Jewish believers were infiltrating them to pervert the Gospel. This church was struggling financially and personally, yet they remained faithful and survived their times. We can take the encouragement of this scripture as we look at our own churches—the small congregations, the lean coffers, and seemingly lack of interest in the work of God. The scripture says persevere and remain faithful for a great reward is coming.
Holy and Gracious Father, forgive me when I become discouraged and frustrated. I believe you have a greater plan for my life and I need your strength to be an overcomer in the greater scale of things to come. Help me to be loving and forgiving of those who design to pull me down and to be an inspiration to others.
Go with God!