Today God gave me something in Revelation 2, verses 8 through 11, which say:
“And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: ‘The words of the first and the last, who died and came to life. “‘I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) and the slander 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. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.’ (Revelation 2:8-11)
God knew that the Church at Smyrna was in a time of tribulation and poverty. He knew that legalists (i.e., those who call themselves Jews because they, for the most part, try to obey the legal requirements of the law, yet don’t believe in salvation through Jesus’ death and Resurrection) were slandering them, and He knew that they were going to have to endure even more suffering in the future. Some even believe the ‘ten days of tribulation’ refer not to ten actual days in which the Church would be persecuted, but rather to ten Roman emperors under which Christianity would suffer.
In spite of knowing all this, though, God tells them not to fear. He even goes further than that, saying that not only are they not poor, they’re rich. And they were, too, just not physically. The reality is, you could be the poorest person in the World, and still be rich. You could not only be poor, but be suffering persecution for your faith, and be looking forward to nothing more than a life time still to come of suffering, and still have nothing to fear. These poor people were living in a very difficult time for Christianity, in a place that particularly disliked Christians. Yet, they could rest just as easy as many Christians today living in the United States, because they had Christ.
Jesus makes all the difference. You are never poor if you have Jesus, because your spirit will always be rich. You could be living as the Church in Smyrna was: with no foreseeable Earthly hope on the horizon, and yet you could still be happy and bold, because Jesus makes us look past the mortal on to the immortal. Everything on this Earth will pass at some point, but Heaven and God are eternal.
The last section of the passage makes this point nicely when it says, “The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.'” The ‘second death’ (which is complete separation from God in Hell) won’t touch Christians, because as Paul puts it, “we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” (see: Romans 8:37). What cause have conquerors to fear? What cause have the rich to believe themselves to be poor? We simply have to look to Christ whenever we’re feeling like poverty is closing in, or when we’re being tempted by Satan. Whenever we look to Christ, we see that, in everything, He makes us more than conquerors.