Chronicled throughout the New Testament, particularly
Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, as well as Acts, I, II, and III John, and Revelation
Have you ever been alone for any extended amount of time? A few hours, a day, a week, or anything in between can feel like eternity when no one else is around. That’s how John would have felt after having been exiled to the island of Patmos. The apostle was put there by Roman Emperor Domitian due to John’s preaching of Jesus Christ as Lord. You see, it was Domitian who wished to be known as “Dominus et Dues” (lord and god). He tried to silence John by having him thrown in a cauldron of boiling oil, but John emerged untouched. In an attempt to get rid of John once and for all, Domitian sent him packing to Patmos.
Initially, John must have felt a bit of dismay at his plight: alone in a strange land, isolated from anything familiar, unable to preach the Gospel. This was Satan’s plan all along. He saw the Church spreading like wildfire and he wished to snuff it out. He thought he could end the apostolic ministry altogether, while discouraging John to the point of hopelessness and, ultimately, faithlessness. The devil intended to demoralize John individually and the Church collectively, thereby killing the momentum that the early Church had developed.
Just like everything else Satan means for harm, God used this situation for His glory. John received the greatest revelation of God’s truth any man ever has before or since. On that island, the Lord spoke in a mighty way to John. Jesus made it emphatically known that He is Lord and that He holds the ultimate victory over death, hell, the grave, and Satan! Through the book of Revelation, Jesus once and for all exposed the devil for the desperate, powerless loser he is.
When people began to hear of John’s revelation, the Church was empowered to push even harder toward winning the lost for Christ. The Church was renewed and re-energized to take the Gospel to the world. I believe that God ordained John’s time at Patmos. I believe that John could never have heard a word of that magnitude if he had been back on the mainland preaching. God had to get him utterly alone to deposit such a precious message into his bosom. God spoke most significantly to John when he was at his loneliest point in life.
Sometimes we have to get quiet to hear from God. Perhaps this was the only way to quiet John enough to allow the Holy Spirit to speak. Whatever the case, I am eternally grateful to Domitian for sending John to Patmos. Little did he know what he was doing. God knew exactly what He was doing.
So, how do we triumph in the midst of trial? Know that even when you feel alone, God is there. Don’t talk. Listen. Hear Him speak.