Fourth Sunday of Easter: The Substituted Acts Passage – Striding forth in confidence in the Lord

Now in Joppa there was a disciple whose name was Tabitha, which in Greek is Dorcas. She was devoted to good works and acts of charity. At that time she became ill and died. When they had washed her, they laid her in a room upstairs. Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, who heard that Peter was there, sent two men to him with the request, “Please come to us without delay.” ((Acts 9:36 – 38)

I was wondering, beloved reader, why the disciples felt that Peter was needed. Was death, I wondered, so unknown to them? Or was it the death of a truly good believer that had them stymied? I can imagine then wondering, “Is death still permanent even for believers? Is there something we must do to ensure she is taken to heaven? Could she be healed/risen from the dead as Jesus was healed/risen from the dead, and as he raised up from the dead others? And if so, who could be able to heal her? What are the parameters now?”

“So Peter got up and went with them; and when he arrived, they took him to the room upstairs. All the widows stood beside him, weeping and showing tunics and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was with them. Peter put all of them outside, and then he knelt down and prayed. He turned to the body and said, “Tabitha, get up.” Then she opened her eyes, and seeing Peter, she sat up.” (Verses 39 – 40)

I can imagine further the position that Peter felt he was placed in. Was he nervous and unsure? Or did he believe that he, through the power of prayer, could turn back death and bring those who had died back to the living? In this account Peter does not seem to be unsure or hesitant about the outcome. But also like Jesus (in at least once instance) he asked those there to leave.

“He gave her his hand and helped her up. Then calling the saints and widows, he showed her to be alive. This became known throughout Joppa, and many believed in the Lord. Meanwhile he stayed in Joppa for some time with a certain Simon, a tanner.” (Verses 41 – 43)

What miracle have you done lately, beloved reader? Raised anyone from the dead? Healed someone who was gravely ill? Cured someone’s cold perhaps? Do not be dismayed – I have not done anything like this lately either. It is not a usual aspect of our society to be able to heal in miraculous ways as the disciples/apostles did.

It would be easy to say that miracles do not happen in our modern world. But that is not quite the truth. The miracles we see in the world around us do not look like the miracles in the bible. Yes, there are those extraordinary events where a result defies everything we know about the natural/physical world. We look on these and marvel, as I am sure the Christians did in the times of the New Testament. Somewhere between the time the New Testament was written and our age that we have firm memory of – the miraculous changed. It could very well be that what we accomplish with ease would be seen as miraculous to those who witnessed Tabitha/Dorcas walk of the room upstairs. In fact I will go further – contending with what is in our modern world and remaining ardent authentic believers is miraculous. Pause for a moment, beloved reader, and think about recent events in the world – the attack on members of humanity, the news of tragedy & suffering, and the constant onslaught of that news day after day. Standing firm in our faith and retaining hope for the future is a miracle! And striding forth to face the world day after day remaining strong in our faith is a miracle! Living confidently that Lord God will undertake for us is a miracle!

Yes, the inexplainable helps buoy up our faith. But living in faith day in and day out subsisting ONLY on internal faith is wondrous in its own way. Clasp that miracle to yourselves, beloved reader! Live confidently in the Divine! Selah!

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