"I know your afflictions and your poverty - yet you are rich" Revelation 2:9a
When you think about being rich we typically don't associate it with being afflicted and poverty based. The world classifies the abundance of wealth and being treated well as rich. However, God tells us we are in the world, but not of this world.
In Revelation, we find that the church in Smyrna is the rich church in Christ's eyes. Jesus warned the church of the upcoming affliction, poverty and slander that they would experience. The religious Jews were persecuting them. Some were being thrown in to jail and some even were martyred for their beliefs. They were willing to die for the sake of Christ. They understood that God had a plan of salvation and his destination was not in the riches and approval of this world, but were eternal riches and an eternal destination of glory.
When we think about suffering, we usually find it hard to swallow. Although we know that Jesus said they hated him, he also said that they will hate us. Today we see churches in many other countries suffering for the gospel and the sake of Christ. They are being persecuted, thrown in jailed and martyred. They are unwilling to relinquish their faith. They are willing to give up all and hold on to the his great and wonderful promises.
Jesus encourages them to be faithful even to the point of death and he will give them the crown of life. The believers in Smyrna were holding onto the eternal reward knowing that one day every tear will be wiped away.
Today we are reminded that we need to be praying for the persecuted churches daily. Yes, if we are preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ we will suffer persecution, but comparatively to other nations, we in the United States suffer little. Let us pray for their courage and faith. May God strengthen our brothers and sisters in Christ as they suffer for his glory and may this bring salvation to those around them that are watching! All glory be to our God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!