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John on Patmos

The isle of Patmos, one of many small rugged, islands in the Aegean Sea, measures a little over 13 square miles. During some of the volatile years of the first century, the apostle John tells us that he was on the isle of Patmos “for the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Revelation 1:9). Though we don’t know for certain, John may have been banished by the Romans to this small island for his loyalty to the faith. John may have been “imprisoned” on this small isle, but from that island, he was granted the thrilling visions of the book of Revelation.

John may have been forced into exile on the small and rugged isle of Patmos, but he was invited into the majestic throne room of God himself. Physically, he was separated from his brethren, but as he reminded them, he was still their “companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ” (Revelation 1:9). Though he is now under the control of Rome, he receives assurance that the Lion of the tribe of Judah has overcome and that the Lord God Almighty reigns. As terrifying as exile on Patmos may have been, surely the thrilling message he received was encouraging and comforting.

Though it does not compare with John’s exile, the isolation that we are enduring certainly is not something that we would have chosen. But having been in this for a while, perhaps we are finding some positives. As I think back over the last few weeks, I realize that some of this isolation has brought blessings. A slower pace has reminded us what really matters. Troubles tend to renew our dependence upon God. We’ve seen the importance of a spiritual perspective and have determined to keep it when things return to “normal.”

In many ways, how we respond is all about our perspective. While we cannot control the circumstances, we must control our response. What happens to us can make us bitter – or it can make us better. John may have been on Patmos, but his heart was in heaven. Don’t dwell on the problems of earth – set your heart on the promise of heaven. Always seek the good and know that, no matter the circumstances, God will always bless his people.

Thomas Larkin

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