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Lord of the sufferers (Revelation 2:8)

When you face suffering in this world, Christian, remember who your Savior is. Jesus has just finished His message to the church at Ephesus, and now, He's about to address the church at Smyrna. Here's how He starts:

And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: "The words of the first and the last, who died and came to life." (Revelation 2:8)

One thing that stands out about this verse is that it is different from how Jesus started His letter to the church in Ephesus. There, He said that He is the one who holds the seven stars and walks among the lampstands. Then, His message to them was that if they didn't return to their first love, He would remove their lampstand.

Now, His introduction to the church at Smyrna is very different. It seems that we're starting to see a pattern that how He introduces Himself in each letter directly applies to His message for that particular church.

For the church at Smyrna, Jesus is about to encourage them regarding the suffering they're enduring. And there's nothing more encouraging than who Christ Himself is. He is "the first and the last." He is the beginning and the end. Implied in that is that not only does Christ know their suffering, but He is also sovereign over it. He also has ordained that their suffering would be temporary.

He also says that He died and came to life. He identifies with their suffering. They're not the first to suffer; Jesus suffered first. And furthermore, He suffered for them. But after He suffered, He also came to life, which would give the church at Smyrna hope that they too would ultimately survive the suffering they were going through. They might get killed for their faith, but the worst that anyone can do is promote them to heaven.

This is the main thing we need when we're suffering: a vision of Christ Himself. He is the first and the last, who died and came to life.

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