“To the angel of the church in Smyrna write:
These are the words of him who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again. I know your afflictions and your poverty—yet you are rich! I know about the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. 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 life as your victor’s crown.
Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who is victorious will not be hurt at all by the second death.
- Revelation 2:8-11
“Satan has no power except that which God gives him.
“To the first-century church in Smyrna, Christ said, “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 for ten days. But be faithful, even if you have to die, and I will give you the crown of life.’ (Revelation 2:10)
”Analyze Jesus’ words for a minute. Christ informs the church of the persecution, the duration of the persecution (ten days), the reason for the persecution (to test you), and the outcome of the persecution (a crown of life). In other words, Jesus uses Satan to fortify his church …”
“Even when [Satan] appears to win, he loses.”
- Max Lucado, The Great House of God
In light of the trials within my family, lately, I have written a lot about the test of faith that our younger son has undergone, but it is a test for each member in the family. Our son continues in therapy after spending a week in the hospital. He was hearing voices, as I mentioned over the weekend, possibly due to the medication he was taking to control the seizures. He is now back in out-patient therapy. He will hopefully get a doctor’s certificate saying that he can return to work, but the return to work is not scheduled to occur until after the “long break”, formerly known as the Christmas Break.
Our son has been given short jabs by the therapist to denounce his faith. I do not know if they were pushing buttons for an effect or really trying to talk him out of his beliefs. He will have to return for more therapy sessions, like that. In those sessions, he will be tested to make sure that the medication is in the proper range to prevent a seizure or other mental breakdown during extreme stress. Odd, our son has a specified number of therapy sessions left where Christian persecution is a likelihood, meant as a ‘test’, just as the church at Smyrna had.
As for his wife, his parents, and his children, they must cope with his stress as a test of faith, without medication. How will our son react around others in the family? How will others react around him?
I have read a lot about the old adage that God gives us no more than we can bear, but that is a fool’s consolation. In my experience, the pressure is increased the next time and the next. The old adage may be correct, but for the wrong reasons. It is not God who shields us from the really bad stuff. It is God showing His strength within us that can withstand the bad stuff. The pressure, the pain, the suffering continue to increase with each test, because at some point, we wake up and we realize…
“Hey, people, I have no strength to withstand the easiest of these trials! It is God within me.”
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.