“I, John, am your brother and your partner in suffering and in God’s Kingdom and in the patient endurance to which Jesus calls us. I was exiled to the island of Patmos for preaching the word of God and for my testimony about Jesus. It was the Lord’s Day, and I was worshiping in the Spirit.” (Revelation 1:9-10 NLT)
The Apostle John, one of the twelve disciples of Jesus, is believed to be the author of Revelation. After his resurrection and prior to ascending to heaven, Jesus commissioned John and the other disciples to go into all the world preaching and teaching the gospel and making disciples. This was a high-risk high stakes mission for sure. The Roman emperor ruled their world, and he demanded to be worshiped as God. Christians in Asia minor, where John traveled and preached, were soon being threatened, persecuted, and killed by the Roman empire. John wrote Revelation after having been exiled to Patmos, a remote Island in the Aegean Sea. He was likely arrested and imprisoned there for preaching about Jesus. The empire may have worried that executing John would lead to more zealous believers. Although separated from the Christian brothers and under his pastoral supervision, his family and friends, John seems to have found a way to send them messages to encourage them to keep trusting Jesus. In exile, He continues worshiping God, praying, and listening.
On one Sunday, John is “worshipping in the Spirit”, and hears a trumpet. He turns and see Jesus standing in magnificent, dazzling glory. John falls to his knees. Jesus commands John to write down all that he reveals to John of “what is now and what will take place later” (John 1:19) and share it with the churches.
The vision Jesus gives is sweeping. It begins with a personalized message for each of the seven churches named. Jesus show John sees throne room of heaven. Jesus is God and on the throne. He is sovereign and in control, despite the persecution. Multitudes surround and worship Jesus. He will come again, defeat evil, deliver the faithful, and raise them to eternal life. John sees the new heaven and new earth descending. Jesus, not the emperor, is the Lord of all, with them and will strengthen them. Don’t stop believing! Cancer can make you feel like you’ve been exiled. Dealing with a disease most people cannot comprehend. Not going to work or school, participating in normal activities, or seeing people you care about. Being ignored because it’s too hard for others to watch you suffer. God may seem to be a million miles away. All of this can make you feel alone. But like John, you are not alone. God is with you. Jesus promised to be us always (Matthew 28:20). Our Christians brothers and sisters are with us through the Holy Spirit. The “saints on the balcony,” as my friend Richard called them, those watching from heaven are cheering you on.
When we are alone, especially in sickness and suffering, we can follow John’s example. Be in the Spirit worshipping! As we praise, pray, and listen to God’s word, we feel connected with other Christians and sense Jesus’ presence. Who knows? He may He will speak to you, reveal himself and his works in your life, and show you the future he has prepared for you. Prayer: Lord, sometimes I feel alone. This disease, the struggle, cuts me off from the life I’ve known. I miss many people and activities. Assure me of your presence in my life. Give me a revelation of your healing work and your plans for me. Help me feel the love and presence of Christian brothers and sisters here and in heaven. Alone
Your Turn: Listen to “I am not Alone” by Kari Jobe, worship, and be encouraged.