These words from the book of Revelation speak of the suffering of God’s people as they keep God’s commands and remain faithful to Jesus.
While they were originally written to early Christians suffering persecution in the 1st century, they have for two thousands years been a source of encouragement and strength to God’s people everywhere as they suffered for their faith.
As we have been reading these daily Bible texts, which are part of the wider Bible2020 reading plan, we have been joining Christians around the world in over 130 different nations. For many of them, suffering for their faith is a very present reality, and as we hear this call for patient endurance today it would be good for us to remember them in prayer.
But for all of us, this passage contains a challenge: the call to continue to obey God and to remain faithful to Jesus despite pressures from our surrounding culture.
There is a cost to such a stance. For the original hearers of this letter, and for many Christians around the world today, that cost is their life. But John hears a voice from heaven speaking a blessing over them as they give up their lives: they are those who are blessed, because they die “in the Lord” – faithful to him. And their reward is rest from their labour, with the promise that “their deeds will follow them”. Or as Eugene Peterson puts it in The Message, “None of what they’ve done is wasted; God blesses them for it all in the end”.
May God give us, and all our brothers and sisters around the world, patience and endurance, as we seek keep God’s commands and remain faithful to Jesus today.