The church at Smyrna. The one who speaks to the church has himself experienced the worst that could happen to him, yet, he now lives! The Greek terms, here, describe a literal crushing beneath a weight and abject poverty and destitution Not only do these believers lack even the necessities of life but they are suffering unbelievably at the hands of their persecutors. William Barclay puts it thusly: ““The pressure of events is on the Church at Smyrna, and the force of circumstances is trying to crush the Christianity out of them.”
One might think that these would be grumbling or turning away from the faith because of their sufferings, but they do not. And the Lord, unlike with others, has no word of criticism for them. They remain faithful in the worst of circumstances. And here’s Christ’s promise to them: “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life” (2:10). That’s the long-term, eternal view, isn’t it? In another place, Paul encouraged believers to “wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come” (1 Thessalonians 1:10). Oh, what promises and what hope is ours in Christ!
Take up your cross; let not its weight
fill your weak spirit with alarm;
Christ's strength shall bear your spirit up
and brace your heart and nerve your arm.
Take up your cross, then, in Christ's strength,
and calmly ev'ry danger brave:
it guides you to abundant life
and leads to vic'try o'er the grave. -- Charles W. Everest (1833)