I can see your pain and poverty – constant pain, dire poverty –
but I also see your wealth…
Fear nothing in the things you’re about to suffer – but stay on guard!
Fear nothing! …It won’t last forever.
Revelation 2: 9–10a (The Message)
This is part of the letter to the church in Smyrna. Smyrna was a bustling city, but one where Christians were persecuted. The church isn’t rich, and it is struggling; perhaps many of us are not in the extreme of poverty that they were in, but many of us know what it is like to be part of a church that is struggling. We may not be put to death for our faith, but to live as a practicing Christian for many is not easy.
The letter doesn’t promise that the Christians in Smyrna will not suffer, but rather tells them to not be afraid. There are difficulties we all have to face, but God is with us. The letter tells the people of Smyrna that they are rich – they may not have wealth, power of prestige, but they are rich in faith.
When we are struggling, do we remind ourselves how rich we truly are? We have a God who loves us so much that he suffered and died for us, that we may know him better and have life in all its fullness. Our lives are blessed by God, and even when we face difficulties, we need to hold on to the blessings we have: these are our riches.
One hymn that reminds us to stay strong in faith is one I learnt as a child: ‘Be bold, be strong, for the lord your God is with you’ by Morris Chapman, which reminds us that God is always with us, so we don’t need to fear.
God of rich and poor
God of those who have and those who have not
Our God, who knows where we are rich and where we are poor
We thank you for our riches, whatever they are, as they are blessings from you
We remember you in our poverty, for it is where we feel the need for you most
Give us strength and courage
Help us to not be afraid