Throughout Scripture, the greatest revelations of God’s goodness came to people in their times of trouble, calamity, isolation and hardship. We find an example of this in the life of John. For three years, this disciple was “in Jesus’ bosom.” It was a time of utter rest, peace and joy, with no troubles or trials. In all that time, John received very little revelation. He knew Jesus only as the Son of man. So, when did he receive his revelation of Christ in all his glory?
It happened only after John was dragged from Ephesus in chains. He was exiled to the Isle of Patmos, where he was sentenced to hard labor. He was isolated, with no fellowship, no family or friends to comfort him. It was a time of utter despair, the lowest point in his life.
That’s when John received the revelation of his Lord that would become the final element of Scripture: the Book of Revelation. In the midst of that dark hour, the light of the Holy Ghost came to him and John saw Jesus as he’d never seen him before. He literally saw Christ as the Son of God.
John did not receive this revelation while he was with the other apostles, or even during Jesus’ days on earth. Yet now, in his darkest hour, John saw Christ in all his glory, declaring, “I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death” (Revelation 1:18). This incredible revelation put John on his face. But Jesus lifted him up and showed him the set of keys he held in his hand. And he reassured John, “Fear not” (1:17).
I believe this revelation comes to every praying, hurting servant in his or her time of need. The Holy Spirit says, “Jesus holds all the keys to life and death. So everyone’s departure rests in his hands.” This revelation is meant to bring peace to our hearts. Like John, we are to envision Jesus standing before us, holding the keys to life and death, assuring us, “Don’t be afraid. I hold all the keys.” What is our response to be? Like Job, we’re to say in faith, “The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21).