Luke ends Chapter 9 of Acts by switching back to Peter who is visiting Lydda, a small town possibly known as Lod today, outside Tel Aviv. Peter too is doing deeds that attract attention and draw attention to the power and potential of this new dynamic. Consistent, good reputations are being built by the apostles in the face of persecution. Remember that there was no written Bible at the time and so visiting and encouraging people who were under persecution was important.
Peter meets Aeneas who is paralyzed and tells him he is healed by Jesus. The man believes and walks. Meanwhile a woman, Dorcas, also called Tabitha, has died in Joppa near by and Peter is called. He goes and prays over her and she arises. Dorcas is one of the original female deaconesses. I suppose we could debate the authenticity of these events but I doubt that would resolve the underlying message that faith in Jesus has power to heal and is a growing, credible group of believers.
We have hospitals full of people who would love for Peter to walk in and proclaim them healed but alas God does not seem to be mine to order around. Nor does healing seem to be dependent on the size of my faith. My husband reminds me that we must choose faith by “management” or by “mystery.” God does not always seem to work on my time schedule nor according to my honest prayers. People die and bad things happen to good people. My consistent faith in the face of evil is important and builds a reputation.
So what do I take away from these incidents? God does have answers to prayers that I cannot imagine or anticipate. Faith is not about what might happen but in a God who cares and can make my burden work out in surprising ways. God uses people like Peter and like you and me to answer prayers as we are sensitive to his leading. The followers were being forced to go to new places because of the persecution and so sometimes when things seem to be going wrong, perhaps God is positioning us to use us. These ideas give me hope when I am feeling paralyzed like Aeneas or grieving like Dorcas’ friends. God cares and God can! Blessings as we embrace in the mystery.