By Sally Lombardo
“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.” (Acts 9:36–40)
The story of Tabitha always inspires me. Who was she, and why does she just pop up in Scripture after Peter heads down to Lydda? Joppa was just south of Lydda, a seacoast town in Syria on the merchant road from Egypt. Today it is known as Jaffa. The book of Acts calls Tabitha a disciple who was “abounding with deeds of kindness and charity which she continually did” (9:36 NASB). She is a godly example of a life overflowing with love for God and others.
In Acts 9, we read that Tabitha suddenly became sick and died. People were mourning, and her female friends purified her and put her in the upper room. Then they called for Peter because they heard that he feared God and had the ability to heal: “Do not delay in coming to us” (9:38 NASB). This upper room is similar to the room where the disciples went to pray after Jesus died. It is like the upper room where people gathered when the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost. What is your upper room today? Sunday church can provide this same escape from the world and a place to share our secret needs with God. It is a place we can plead for life to be restored in many ways. Our upper room can be any place where we meet with God in prayer.
The widows gathered around Tabitha were weeping because they were sad about her sudden death. They showed Peter all the tunics she had made and recounted her great works of service. Peter, however, was unmoved. He sent them out and knelt to pray. Prayer did something for him that the display of garments and stories of good deeds could not. Prayer was the exercise and expression of his faith in God. He knew that Jesus was alive, and that Jesus had the power to use Tabitha’s life or death for God’s glory.
In times of crisis, prayer strengthens us. Prayer helps us rest in the Lord’s care, but it also helps us tremble at his power. We know that Jesus has power over life, death, and everything! Prayer strengthens the church as we proclaim Christ’s supremacy over everything. He is at work through every circumstance (Romans 8:28). And he is at work through his people, as we provide restoration and healing to people in his name.
Reflection: Spend time reflecting on Christ’s defeat over sin and death. How does his victory strengthen your faith and empower your prayers? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Could you use some hope right now? Join Peter’s first audience—“elect exiles” undergoing persecution—and experience the apostle’s powerful call to follow Jesus in the midst of life’s challenges, knowing your Living Hope is not a distant one, but a daily, glorious, life-giving reality! This unique six-week small group Bible study, A Living Hope: A Study of 1 Peter, helps you uncover the priceless promises written specifically to the struggling and the hurting, with pastoral gentleness and bold confidence for the future. This study of 1 Peter will help you become utterly convinced that Jesus is the only sure, true, incorruptible, and permanent hope for you.
Comments will be approved before showing up.