36 In Joppa there was a believer named Tabitha. Her name in the Greek language was Dorcas. She was always doing good and helping poor people. 37 About that time she became sick and died. Her body was washed and placed in a room upstairs. 38 Lydda was near Joppa. The believers heard that Peter was in Lydda. So they sent two men to him. They begged him, “Please come at once!” 39 Peter went with them. When he arrived, he was taken upstairs to the room. All the widows stood around him crying. They showed him the robes and other clothes Dorcas had made while she was still alive. 40 Peter sent them all out of the room. Then he got down on his knees and prayed. He turned toward the dead woman. He said, “Tabitha, get up.” She opened her eyes. When she saw Peter, she sat up. 41 He took her by the hand and helped her to her feet. Then he called the believers and the widows. He brought her to them. They saw that she was alive. 42 This became known all over Joppa. Many people believed in the Lord. 43 Peter stayed in Joppa for some time. He stayed with Simon, a man who worked with leather.
In Chapter 7, Luke told us how Stephen was killed for speaking the truth about Jesus, and, in chapter 8, how a time of persecution began that was so bad that all but a few disciples are scattered from Jerusalem. Undoubtedly bad things.
He goes on
to describe a series of consequences of those bad things: Philip explains the scriptures to an Ethiopian, his mind and heart opened, has a profound impact in Ethiopia, then Philip preaches life saving words in Samaria. Ananias is in the right place in Damascus to open Paul’s eyes and heart setting in motion his mission to bring the Gospel to gentiles (like me). God transforms the bad things and produces mighty blessings.
Now a story about a lady called Tabitha. She had touched many with her kindness and generosity. When she dies, she is surrounded by the widows and believers she has blessed, all grieving. Her death really doesn’t seem like a good thing.
Because of the persecution, Peter is nearby. The believers send for him and Peter does almost exactly what he had seen Jesus do when he raised Jairus’ daughter back to life.
Luke doesn’t tell us what the believers in Joppa expected when they sent for Peter, but he does describe the consequence of their honest expression of their need and Peter’s faithfulness: the news spread and many believed. One woman raised to life and many rescued for eternal life.
So what apparently bad things in my life, or the lives of those around me, does God want to turn into blessing? Like Peter, where can my availability and readiness to take hold of God’s good things be part of him transforming bad to good, death to life.
Written by David Cornell