36 Now in Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (which translated in Greek is called Dorcas); this woman was abounding with deeds of kindness and charity which she continually did. 37 And it happened at that time that she fell sick and died; and when they had washed her body, they laid it in an upper room. 38 Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, having heard that Peter was there, sent two men to him, imploring him, “Do not delay in coming to us.” 39 So Peter arose and went with them. When he arrived, they brought him into the upper room; and all the widows stood beside him, weeping and showing all the tunics and garments that Dorcas used to make while she was with them. 40 But Peter sent them all out 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. 41 And he gave her his hand and raised her up; and calling the saints and widows, he presented her alive. 42 It became known all over Joppa, and many believed in the Lord. – Acts 9:36-42, NASB
When we read miracles stories in scripture, it’s only natural for us to focus on the main event, the big miracle, the supernatural, superhuman feat. The miraculous feeding. The miraculous calming of a storm. The miraculous healing. The miraculous release from prison. The miraculous catch of fish. We focus on the big miracle, the main event… and all the other details of the story, the details on the edges of the story, tend to go a bit out-of-focus.
That’s certainly the case for this story from the book of Acts. When we read a story like this one, we focus on the main event, the big miracle, the supernatural, superhuman feat. You know… the part where the apostle Peter raises a woman from the dead. That kind of big miracle.
And to be sure, that’s incredible. I’m not taking anything away from Peter here. The power of almighty God is working through him, to the point that he is able to raise a good, faithful, compassionate disciple of Jesus Christ from the dead. How incredible is that?!?! How miraculous?!?!
Still, even as we celebrate the “big miracle” that is the focus of the story, I don’t want us to overlook the small miracles on the story’s out-of-focus edges. Did you notice them? There, in the opening verse? “Now in Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (which translated in Greek is called Dorcas); this woman was abounding with deeds of kindness and charity which she continually did” (Acts 9:36, NASB).
To those who spoke Aramaic, she was known as Tabitha. To those who spoke Greek, she was known as Dorcas. To all, she was known as a woman of uncommon kindness and charity. Sadly, we’re not privy to all the details. (In what ways did she demonstrate such kindness? Who benefited from her charity? Oh, how I would love to read “The Acts of Tabitha/Dorcas”…) Even still, we know that her kindness and charity was noteworthy… enough, indeed, to warrant a “note” in the book of Acts.
For me, Tabitha/Dorcas’ “deeds of kindness and charity” are the little miracles in this miracle story. Not as flashy as a resurrection, perhaps. Not as supernatural or inexplicable. But certainly miraculous. Extraordinary. Awe-inspiring. A life marked by simple kindness and charity? It’s miraculous.
And it’s closer than you think. This week, our church administrator Susan Matacavage shared this encouraging text with me:
“So, a man left a message that he left his glasses in the library at the Al Anon meeting on Friday. I asked Debbie [our church custodian] to look. She found them. I gave her his name and number so she could arrange a time with him to pick them up. When he came to pick them up, he tried to give her $20.00. She said she couldn’t take his money, so he said that she should give it to the church then.”
Debbie, our church custodian, is a woman who is also “abounding with deeds of kindness and charity.” Her heart for people who are struggling financially, for people who are dealing with illness, for animals who can’t speak up for themselves… her heart is like that of Tabitha/Dorcas. This thing with the glasses, the kindness, the refusal to be rewarded for kindness, is just one more small miracle in a long line of small miracles.
In the season of coronavirus, I certainly wouldn’t turn my nose up at a big miracle. Something like… the sudden and total eradication of COVID-19, perhaps? Just a suggestion for the Almighty. But in the meantime, I don’t want to overlook the smaller miracles — the acts of kindness and charity — unfolding all around us.
Look for them, friends. Look for the small miracles. Offer them yourself, when opportunities arise. It’s who we are, after all. We’re people blessing people.
Be small miracle-workers … and as you do, hold fast to this truth:
Our God is bigger than coronavirus.
Our vision is bigger than coronavirus, too.
We are people blessing people.
We are Wesley Church.
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