Apparently being a suffering, struggling church was not a mark of disfavor or disobedience.
Jesus' approach strikes a discordant note with much of what is offered as appropriate church evaluation today. Now, when finance, influence and size of constituency mean so much, churches are measured on the scales of name recognition, market infiltration, traffic through the door, and cash flow. Is it possible that we are judging church differently critically than does Christ? We would have no trouble saying no if this modern approach actually made disciples, but then, has anyone ever had a felt need for repentance!
The church in Smyrna was experiencing tribulation--the situation of being between a rock and a hard place without viable alternatives. They were in poverty as well. The combination of being without and having no way out is very distressing indeed. Perhaps we hope that such a condition would never be visited upon faithful Christians, but that is exactly the condition these faithful Christians were in. Christ was fully aware of it, and yet he neither rebuked them for being in it nor promised them that he would alter it.
The church in Smyrna was subjected to blasphemy from those who said they were Jews but were not. It seems to me that this blasphemy would have been twofold: folk were reviling Christ, and they were reviling those in Christ. I don't like being subjected to abusive language, and it makes me cringe when I hear some one so much as using the Lord's name in vain, so it is evident to me that more than sticks and stones can cause injury. That the source was Jews not believing in their own messiah puts me in mind of the some of the rot that comes out of Sam Harris or Sigmund Freud.