An incessant pounding invaded my restful dream of strolling the shore of a rippling lake. Such a noise didn’t belong in this tranquil setting, and I struggled to focus on its origin. My eyes opened, and I realized I was in bed, and someone was knocking on my front door. It was dead of night, so this was obviously not a social call; and my heart thudded with apprehension.
Upon opening the door, I beheld my friend Damaris, breathless and with a very distressed countenance. Pulling her inside, I demanded, “What on earth is wrong to bring you out at such an hour? Has your mother-in-law been taken ill again?”
“No, Julia, it’s my cousin Tabitha! This evening, while we were sewing together, she began to have a sharp pain in her side, and I left, so she could lie down. When I went back to check on her later, she was groaning and ashen-faced, so I ran for the doctor. He says it doesn’t look good! Oh, Julia, I’m frightened!”
“Do you need me to go back with you? It will take me but a moment to get ready!”
“Thank you, but Persis is there now, too, so we have enough help; but I do want you to pray with all your heart!”
After she had gone, I sat down on a stool and gazed out at the star-speckled heavens. I thought of Tabitha, who had been my dearest comfort only months before when my husband had died. She was a well-known seamstress, and we had spent many hours together fashioning garments for everyone from babies to the elderly. It was during these quiet times that she had led me to belief in Jesus as my Savior--and oh, what a solace and strength He had become!
I wasted no time beseeching the Father on her behalf, and through my night-long vigil, I prayed every way I knew how. I tried begging: “Our Lord, do not take Tabitha! Please, let her live. We all need and love her so! Is she not the kindest, most generous woman in all of Joppa? She has practically clothed the entire town! Was there ever one needy person she did not help?”
Next, I tried to strike a bargain: “God, you know all the good she does. She deserves your favor! Why, just yesterday we were sewing coats to give the poor when winter comes again. If you heal her, I will help her make twice what she has done before!”
Finally, I attempted to challenge the Almighty: “Prove your power and love to me by effecting a healing, as Jesus did when He was here among us. Show me a miracle on Tabitha’s behalf!”
I continued until first light, believing with each breath I took that God would not refuse my desperate pleas. He could not!
When a rooster announced dawn, I hastened to Tabitha’s house; but when I arrived, my heart froze in mid-beat at seeing the knot of weeping women outside.
Suspecting the answer, I asked the question anyway: “What is the news? How is Tabitha?”
Persis drew me aside, and with trembling lips informed me: “She died only moments ago. Oh, Julia! How could God have let this happen?” Her head dropped down upon my shoulder, while we grieved together.
Presently, she looked up and continued, “There is hope. Tabitha’s brothers have heard that Peter is preaching in Lydda nearby, and they have gone to bring him here.”
“Listen, Persis, let us each go get some of the garments Tabitha has made, to show Peter how she has blessed us. He will see how we need her.”
In half an hour we women had reassembled in the upstairs room where Tabitha lay, to await Peter’s coming. When he walked into the room, we crowded around him, speaking of her ministry and tearfully holding up the shirts and coats she had stitched.
He bade us leave the room, but I lingered just outside the doorway, expectancy flickering in my breast. Hearing him pray, I united my plea with his. Then came his startling command, “Tabitha, get up!”
I stood rooted to the spot and could not bring myself to look into the room. I held my breath until his joyous voice summoned us all back, and he motioned toward Tabitha, smiling and sitting up on the bed.
Such spectacular news spread like lightning, astounding the townspeople; and among those newly bowing their hearts to Jesus was my own precious father.
Based on the story of Tabitha (Dorcas) in Acts 9:36-42
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