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The Gospel From Patmos
Everyday Insights For Living
From The Last Book Of The Bible
Daily Devotional
Sunday, February 17, 2019

            Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, to test you, and you will suffer affliction for ten days. Be faithful until death and I will give you the crown of life. Rev 2:10.



            Daniel and his friends experienced ten days of trial in Daniel 1. The church at Smyrna would also experience ten days of trial. But faithfulness in that trial would prepare them for future glory. Like Daniel and his three friends we prepare best for future challenges by passing the tests we are given in the present.       
            The game was on the line. As the ball was snapped, Mike, the defensive end, charged into the opposing left tackle with his right shoulder, freed himself for a spin move with his left forearm, and dropped the scrambling quarterback with an ankle tackle. The quarterback fumbled the ball and Mike’s teammate recovered, ensuring victory.
            All this happened in three and a half seconds, but the play was years in the making. Lifting 80 tons of weights four or five times a week gave Mike the arm and leg strength to free himself from a clutching offensive tackle. Hundreds of tennis matches and agility drills gave him the ability to change directions quickly.
            Thousands of forty-yard dashes and wind sprints meant he could keep going in the fourth quarter when his opponents were gasping for air. Hundreds of hours in the film room taught him that a particular tackle always leaned back a bit on pass plays, or that a particular quarterback would always pump-fake with the ball or scramble to his left whenever an opponent was about to tackle him.
            In the span of about three and a half seconds, Mike made a great play that turned the game around. A great deal of suffering went into the strength, the agility, the speed and the strategy Mike employed to defeat his opponents on this play. None of this was fun, except perhaps for the tennis. But each exercise would enable him to be a bit faster, a bit quicker, a bit stronger and a bit more agile than he was before. It all added up to small advantages on the football field.
            The sum total of Mike’s success was determined less by what happened on the playing field than by what happened in the training room.1 The “victory crown” of life (Olympic gold medal) that Jesus promised the Smyrnians was not a casual result of their behavior. God used the grievous things they had suffered to prepare them for the ultimate victory of human existence, eternal life.



            Lord, help me to remember that the difficult issues in my life today are not obstacles, they are opportunities to prepare for the ultimate battle of human history.



1Based on a personal interview with Michael Lorentz, April 25, 2004, former defensive end for the Universities of Colorado and Montana.


 
 
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