#24 Women of God: Tabitha
Updated: Aug 18, 2021
Joppa, a lovely old port city near the heart of modern Tel Aviv, has had a rich past of conquests and massacres. It was here that Tabitha (or Dorcas in the Greek) was “full of good works” and helping the poor and widows by sewing clothes. She died unexpectedly and the disciples in Joppa sent for Peter who was in a town about 22 kilometres away (Acts 9:36-42).
I expect Peter would have taken a couple of days to get back to Joppa and by then, the much-loved Tabitha had been washed and laid out in an upper room in accordance with their burial customs. Peter came, shooed everyone out of the room, knelt, prayed and commanded Tabitha to get up. And she did!
There are a few things that I notice about this record.
Firstly, Tabitha had already died and 2 men were urgently sent off for Peter. What for? Were they asking Peter to conduct her funeral service or were they expecting Peter to pray for her to be resurrected?
Secondly, by the time Peter arrived the widows were gathered around weeping. Weren’t they in agreement with sending for Peter and expecting her to be resurrected? Had the time that it took for Peter to arrive dissolved their faith?
Thirdly, Peter dismissed these weeping widows from the room before he prayed for Tabitha. I conclude that even Peter couldn’t operate in healing faith when he was surrounded by people who lacked faith for the impossible.
Peter had learnt the lesson from Jesus when he had been afraid in the boat, “Why are you so fearful? How is it you have no faith?” (Mk 4:40). Peter had been fearful during the storm but the record says that after Jesus stilled the storm, “They feared exceedingly, and said to one another, ‘Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!’” (Mk 4:41). This second fear that Peter encountered made a bigger impact on Him.
Peter knew, now, that everything was possible for him that believes (Mk 9:23). He had seen Jesus raise people from the dead before and this was his first opportunity to follow his Master’s lead. He learnt from the boat incident how infectious fear was, so this meant getting rid of people lacking faith and being alone with his Master.
Today, I want you to appreciate this lesson. Surround yourself with like-minded people of faith when you are praying for something and if that’s impossible, pray alone with our Master. Strong, believing faith like that can move mountains! (Matt. 17:20). Focus on Jesus, not who or what is around you.
*Scripture cited from the NKJV.