It struck me during the sermon in church this past Sunday that faith surfaces in the strangest places from the least expected people. I entitled this blog The Workbench of Faith because faith doesn’t happen over night. It’s a process that begins with believing and continues until the day we die. The events of our life, good and bad, develop our faith. God doesn’t cause these events, but he does allow them to happen and then uses them to mold and shape us on His workbench.
The sermon on Sunday explored the story in Acts 12:1-17. Herod had just killed James and, seeking the pleasure of the Jews, had imprisoned Peter. The crux of the story falls in verses 6-14. The night before his execution, an angel appeared before Peter and escorted him out of the prison. In verse 9 we learn:
So he went out and followed, and he did not know that what took place through the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision.
Did you catch that? Even Peter thought it wasn’t real. An apostle, follower of Christ from the early days, aware of the power in the Holy Spirit, still didn’t realize, until the angel left him in the streets of the city, that it was real.
The disciples had been praying unceasingly for Peter’s release. When he comes to his senses, Peter goes to the home where they are praying and knocks on the door. A servant, Rhoda, hears his voice, and in her excitement, runs to tell the others that Peter is at the door.
Did you catch that? Rhoda believed! We usually focus on the fact that she didn’t let him in due to her excitement, but SHE believed. A servant.
So, what happens? The people praying for Peter’s release tell her she’s crazy. They don’t believe that the very thing they’re praying for has happened. Peter had to keep knocking to get them to finally accept that their prayers had been answered.
I’ve heard this story many times, but what I haven’t heard discussed is the faith in the least expected person in the story, Rhoda. We chuckle over the disciples not believing their prayers had been answered, but we fail to acknowledge the woman who believed.
Was she a new Christian? Often their faith burns bright at the beginning of their life in Christ. Was she a believer? Probably, for safety reasons. With Herod arresting and killing apostles, groups probably met in secret. We don’t know much about her, but we do know she believed when others didn’t.
The irony is that Christians often find themselves in the role of the ones praying who refused to believe their prayers were answered. Or we show surprise when the answer comes. While, the ones who believe often turn out to be the person you never expect.
Have you ever prayed for something but remained blind to the answer when it came? Have you ever encountered unlikely faith in a Rhoda?