“‘And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: […] Do not fear what you are about to suffer’” (Revelation 2:8, 10).
The church in Smyrna was a faithful one. They are one of two churches in Revelation of whom Jesus has nothing negative to say. Their message is one only of encouragement. Jesus knows their works and is pleased with them, praising them for remaining obedient to Him despite opposition from “‘those who say that they are Jews and are not’” (2:9).
But though this church is faithful, they are not exempt from troubles. Their obedience to Christ has made them hated among those who oppose the message of salvation. In this brief letter recorded in Revelation, Jesus gives the church one charge: Do not fear. He warns them that hardships are about to come on them, that “‘for ten days you will have tribulation’” (2:10). He wasn’t going to keep them out of trouble; His promise was to give a rich reward to those who were faithful even to the very end.
Often, we want God to deliver us from all our problems. We go through hard things, and we plead with God to give us some relief, to act in a mighty way and bring our troubles to an end. But that is not how God tends to work. He could have easily thwarted the plans of the Smyrnans’ enemies, killing them or keeping them in some other way from carrying out their intentions. But that’s not what He chose to do. Instead, He warned them of what was to come and urged them to remain strong in it. They didn’t have to fear their enemies, because He was in their midst and would not leave them. If they remained faithful, He would reward them with the crown of life. Their troubles would fade away as they lived forever in the presence of the God for whom they had given everything.