“Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.” Revelation 2:10
This is kind of a disturbing passage. These are people God is pleased with, yet He is allowing a time of testing at the hands of the devil in which they will be put in prison. Do you feel like you are in some type of prison right now? A situation that you can’t change, an affliction that you can’t remove, or some type of thorn in your flesh that God doesn’t seem to be delivering you from? I want to encourage you, it’s just a test. God wanted the church at Smyrna to know that He, the One who loved them, was allowing it, and that He had rewards for those who passed it. How do you pass God’s tests?
- Know that God has limited them. Jesus said there would be a beginning and an end – it would last 10 days and then be over. When you are in a test it is tempting to despair because it feels like this will be the rest of your life. Don’t worry, this too will pass. We can’t shorten God’s tests but we can lengthen them by having a horrible attitude. (See Israelites in the desert for 40 years) 1Corinthians 10:13 promises that in all temptations (same Greek word as tests) “God is faithful; He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”
- Don’t be afraid. Satan works through fear and God works to free us from fear. Trust God in your prison and don’t give into fear. Oftentimes the purpose of the test is to get us in a situation where we would normally be afraid, so that we can learn to walk in faith.
- Be faithful. Keep doing what you know is right even if it doesn’t seem to be working. Keep praying, reading, loving, and obeying – God wants to see if we will be faithful when things are rough, or if we’re only fair weather Christians. What’s the worst that can happen – you dying? Jesus said to be faithful even to the point of death. What’s so bad about being home with Jesus forever in the eternal city where the streets are made of gold, and where we rule and reign with Him for all eternity?