We look now at Smyrna, and see that a great suffering has come upon the church there, a period of intense suffering in which it will be necessary to be faithful unto death; and so the Lord, in the inclusiveness of first love, would say, and does say, as I see it here, that first love is suffering love.
It is indicated by what you will go through for the Lord's sake and out of love for the Lord, what you will endure, what you will put up with.
No, not just to what part of the world you will go to minister to the heathen and lay down your life for your Lord, but what you will put up with at home, what you will put up with in other Christians, what you will put up with of daily martyrdom in love for your Lord without a revengeful spirit, without wanting to see those who cause your suffering and affliction made to suffer themselves for it.
Suffering love, that is first love.
Are you having to suffer, and suffer wrongfully?
Peter says, "If, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye shall take it patiently, this is acceptable ("grace") with God"
(1 Peter 2:20).
As we have said, grace is only another name for love.
Suffering love - that is first love.
I could illustrate that. You have no need that it should be done, but you know quite well that in a first wholehearted devotion to any object you are prepared to go through anything for that object.
It does not matter what people say, the love is stronger than all hindrances.
~T. Austin Sparks~