Savithri was a woman in India who became a follower of Jesus
. Because her village was primarily Hindu, nobody objected when her husband beat her to death after she refused to renounce her Christian faith.
Savithri’s strong faith did not shield her from death. We should not be surprised by this. Jesus warned His disciples that standing for the gospel can be dangerous. “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved” (Matt. 10:21–22).
Smyrna was a wealthy seaport city, containing both a center for emperor worship and a large Jewish population. In this cultural environment the church was a religious minority whose message provoked Jews and Gentiles alike. These Christians suffered economically and sometimes physically for their devotion to Jesus Christ. They were slandered and abused.
In order to encourage the Suffering
church in Smyrna, Jesus reminded them of three important truths. First, He was aware of their situation: “I know your affliction and your poverty” (v. 9). Second, things were not what they seemed. Although they may have been poor by human standards, these believers were rich in God’s eyes. Third, their suffering was only temporary (v. 10). In the scope of an eternal perspective, it would be a relatively brief period of time.
What does God expect from those in such an environment? In a word,faithfulness, not survival: “Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown” (v. 10).