The book of Acts is a tale of miraculous, extraordinary stories, and Acts 9:32-43 is no exception; in this passage, the apostle Peter is seen healing a paralysed man named Aeneas and raising a woman (Tabitha or Dorcas) from the dead. It’s easy to feel daunted by these stories if we are not seeing those things in our own lives, but whilst we do well to seek God for the miraculous, we also see the intimate and personal in these stories and can learn much from these too.
God cares for the individual, as every healing and miracle in the New Testament demonstrates. A paralysed man, bedridden for eight years, comes to find new energy and life. A widow who ‘was always doing good and helping the poor’ (Acts 9:36) is given the opportunity for further service. One thing we need to remember as the story often focuses on the apostle with their miraculous ministry and frequent persecution is that behind-the-scenes, so to speak, go countless acts of service which are usually largely unseen and unknown. Tom Wright comments that Tabitha represents the ‘unsung heroines who have got on with what they do best and have done it to the glory of God.’ (‘Acts For Everyone Pt 1’, P 154) There are many people who, ‘like her, lived their lives in faith and hope, bearing the sorrows of life no doubt as well as celebrating its joys, and finding in the small acts of service to others a fulfilment of the gospel within their own sphere, using traditional skills to the glory of God.’ (ibid.) He goes on to say, ‘Luke is right to draw our eyes down to the small-scale and immediate, in case we should ever forget that these are the people who form the heart of the church, while the apostles and evangelists go about making important decisions, getting locked up, stoned or shipwrecked, preaching great sermons, writing great letters and generally being great and good all over the place.’ (ibid., P 154-155)
Most of us will not be famous in the world’s eyes and may never see the kind of miracles we read about in the Bible. But we can be like Tabitha, using our gifts and talents to serve God in the mundane. We are just ordinary people and see nothing special in our service. God sees the heart, however, and values everything that is offered to Him in faith. Apparently ordinary people are not ordinary to God.