Some people enjoy working out. For some, its one of their favorite things to do. I am not one of those. I do it because I must. I’m officially back in medium shirts…mostly. But it is not a labor of love for me. It is grueling. I wake up a little before 6am, not because I look forward to it, but because I know my options. I suffer through the workout for the sake of the results. I would like to spend just a second on this word, suffering.
A few weeks ago I started studying the seven churches of Revelation 2-3. I wrote about the first church, the Church in Ephesus in a previous post. I would like to continue talking about these churches and what we can learn from them by looking at the church in Smyrna (Revelation 2:8-11). The letter to the church in Smyrna is unique in that it is the only letter that includes no admonishment (criticism). Jesus, through John, doesn’t really “get onto” this church like he does the others. Essentially, he says I know your trouble. Do not be afraid of what you will suffer. Be faithful to the end and God will give you the ultimate victory.
Growing up in the American church, I have suffered almost no religious persecution. Particularly when compared to other places in the world. We hardly even know what it means to be persecuted for what we believe here in the U.S. You need to understand something though, suffering is a part of our walk with God. Suffering has the ability to do incredible things for your faith, but you have to be faithful to the end for it to do its work. You have to instinctively turn to Christ. It has to be in your character to turn to God when things get difficult.
Are you nurturing that kind of relationship with God in yourself? Are you working on a daily and weekly basis to draw near to God so that when things get difficult, He is the one to whom you instinctively turn?