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Do not be surprised

Scripture tells us trouble will come for the Christian

This was not like the time my husband surprised me on my birthday with a new microwave oven, and when we opened the manufacturer’s sealed box we found inside a used, disgusting, food-encrusted appliance that some miscreant had returned to the store.

That was a gut punch too, but it was random and anonymous. No, what happened on July 4 was not that. What happened on July 4 was targeted and personal—although, let me not get ahead of myself, or beg the question. Here are the details and you decide:

Arriving back home about 6 p.m. from a parade, we noticed something odd about the two cars parked in front of our house—the red Mustang of the woman staying with us, and the SUV of our guest. Both were smeared, as by strong and methodical fists, with long thick streaks of brown mud, on all four sides of the cars as well as windows and windshield.

In the first few seconds it doesn’t sink in. I saw a movie once (Winning) where the Paul Newman character comes home unexpectedly from a trip, opens the door, and finds his wife, the Joanne Woodward character, in bed with his best friend, played by Robert Wagner. There’s a long pause in the film at this point, because Newman’s brain is going crazy trying to process the scene. It takes a while for everything you thought you knew in life to be unlearned.

We’re told that “all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”

In fact, it didn’t bother me as much on first sight as it would in later hours when I retired for the night and did more thinking. In the beginning I was happy enough to buy my father’s theory that a couple of neighborhood rowdies were having holiday fun. Even so, it was odd that no other vehicles on the street were touched.

It also strained credulity that anyone—funster or not—would create such a thorough art tableau when he had every reason to suppose, by the fact of the parked cars themselves, that the residents were at home. Would you take the chance?

The logic doesn’t add up even two months later: If I really wanted to inflict pain on someone I would “key” the car rather than administer a mud facial pack, wouldn’t you? Faster, more efficient, more damage, less work, less chance of being caught hauling a mud bucket to the site.

Anyway, my neighbor across the street has a camera mounted on his house and trained on the portion of road we share. So I texted him and asked if by chance his all-seeing eye had picked up anything suspicious from 4 to 6 p.m. The normally verbose neighbor made a one-word reply: “No.”

By sheer coincidence, our pastor’s sermon on the morning of the 4th was on 1 Peter 4:12: “Do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.” He very honestly confessed from the pulpit to being personally surprised at how surprised he is when people dislike him for the sake of Christ.

There is no evidence at all that the car thing had anything to do with me being a Christian. I say this to my shame, perhaps. We’re told that “all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12). If you’re not being persecuted, are you just lucky, or are you not living godly enough? After being beaten for their public faith in Christ, Peter and other Apostles rejoiced “that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name” (Acts 5:41).

Red Mustang jealousy is as plausible a guess as any, I suppose. Still, it’s best to be ready for trouble, since our own Lord predicted that “because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold” (Matthew 24:12).

Ask the brethren of Afghanistan.

Andrée Seu Peterson

Andrée is a senior writer for WORLD Magazine. Her columns have been compiled into three books including Won't Let You Go Unless You Bless Me. Andrée resides near Philadelphia.


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