by Robby Higginbottom
Now there was in Joppa a disciple named Tabitha, which, translated, means Dorcas. She was full of good works and acts of charity. In those days she became ill and died, and when they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room. Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, hearing that Peter was there, sent two men to him, urging him, "Please come to us without delay." So Peter rose and went with them. And when he arrived, they took him to the upper room. All the widows stood beside him weeping and showing tunics and other garments that Dorcas made while she was with them. But Peter put them all outside, and knelt down and prayed; and turning to the body he said, "Tabitha, arise." And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up. And he gave her his hand and raised her up. Then, calling the saints and widows, he presented her alive. And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed in the Lord. And he stayed in Joppa for many days with one Simon, a tanner.
Dorcas is dead. That's the reality the disciples are facing. She was full of good works and acts of charity. She made beautiful garments with her hands, and she made the Lord look beautiful with her life. But now she's dead. Her body has been washed and laid in an upper room. For Dorcas, it's over. It's hopeless. And who would disagree? Apparently, the disciples. They send an urgent call for Peter to come. What do they think Peter will do? He has never raised a dead person to life. Perhaps they're hopeful in his close friendship with the One who is the Resurrection and the Life. When Peter arrives, he immediately feels the impact of Dorcas' life and the sting of her death. The clothes are a tangible reminder of the power of her life. The tears are a heartbreaking reminder of the power of death.
If you were Dorcas' friend, what would you have done? If you were Peter-summoned to come-what would you have done? The question is not as hypothetical as it may seem. We're surrounded by apparently hopeless situations. Situations where a sound thinker would say, "It's over." Situations where we're all tempted to say, "Dorcas is dead. There's nothing we can do. Let's just move on." On Sunday we talked about the sanctity of life and the horror of abortion. But the specter of hopelessness haunts us when we consider the hatred and division we see across our nation. The siren call of despair rings out wherever we find ourselves enslaved and see no way of escape. It's not an academic question: What do we do when Dorcas is dead?
Like Dorcas' friends, do we come together and make a plan? Do we grieve the apparent victories of death that terrorize us personally and corporately? Do we summon the courage to do something bold? Like Peter, do we agree to go, even when we don't have experience raising the dead? Do we go with a joyful confidence, not in ourselves, but in the risen Lord Jesus Christ? Do we silence the chaos and create a space to kneel and pray that the Lord will do what seems impossible to us? Surely, the Lord is the Hero of the story, but He delights to involve His people in His life-giving work. What if Dorcas' friends lose hope? What if Peter doesn't come? In a hopeless world, where is the Lord calling us to bear witness to the power of the resurrection? Death was not the last word for Dorcas; neither shall it be for God's people.