John Bradshaw - Sometimes God Allows Difficulty
Today the ruins of the biblical City of Smyrna have been swallowed up by the bustling city of Izmir on turkey's West Coast; two thousand years ago, there was a thriving Christian community there.
Jesus tells that church they'll suffer dreadful persecution, but then says, "Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life," Revelation 2:10. He doesn't say I'll stop persecution from coming to you.
Sometimes God allows the unthinkably difficult, but gives grace to endure that hardship. The people of Smyrna hadn't done anything wrong; it wasn't punishment, just a part of the bigger battle between good and evil that has impacted people of all ages.
It's good to remember that, and sickness, and loss, and challenges, and financial ups and downs - Jesus doesn't always take it away. If he's allowing challenges in your life right now, be faithful, one day soon, he'll give you the crown of life. I'm John Bradshaw, for It Is Written.