During that same time King Herod began to mistreat some who belonged to the church. He ordered James, the brother of John, to be killed by the sword. Herod saw that some of the people liked this, so he decided to arrest Peter, too. (This happened during the time of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.)
After Herod arrested Peter, he put him in jail and handed him over to be guarded by sixteen soldiers. Herod planned to bring Peter before the people for trial after the Passover Feast. So Peter was kept in jail, but the church prayed earnestly to God for him. Â Â Â Â Â Â Acts 12:1-5 (NCV)
Henry and I have spent the last two nights without air conditioning. Such a little annoyance but oh how my flesh can magnify it! But my LORD will never let an opportunity pass to teach me something. â€œCount your blessings, Jody.â€ He said as the fan stirred the humid air in our bedroom. And the list was long as my mind started with the fans and went on to our house and the ministry and so many people we have met because of His great mercy.
This passage in Acts has always been at once troubling and a comfort. The apostle James is killed by Herod. Peter is taken into prison with the probable intent to also be put to the sword as James was. It says that the fellowship was praying earnestly for Peter. I suspect they also prayed earnestly for James when he was taken into prison. And so the question comes: Why was Peter spared and James was not? Or more accurately, why was Peter spared then? He was later crucified. Right now, at this point in my life, the only answer that I find in my heart is that God can see the whole of this life and so only He can makes these decisions of who and when. Even if He were to give me some say in these decisions, I could not make such decisions. I don’t have the wisdom or the â€œknowingâ€. And so I learn more about trusting God in the unanswerable.
There are so many that I am praying for right now who are ill with life-threatening diseases. I pray for their health, asking God for His mercy and a miracle in their lives. I pray for their families that they will know the assurance of God’s love and care for those they love. I ask for courage and encouragement with every step in every day and night that they must walk. I pray for their doctors and nurses and technicians that they have His grace and His wisdom to see beyond the natural in making decisions. And I pray for all of us that we may come closer to the heart of God and learn from Him.
Peter was guarded by 16 soldiers and was chained in the bowels of the prison and yet God set him free. He even had to wake Peter up so he would not miss the miracle! As Daniel said, â€œMy God can save me but even if He does not, I will worship Him!â€ (Daniel 3:16-18) All of God’s promises are true (2 Corinthians 1:20). I may not understand all of His promises but that doesn’t make them any less true. I may not understand that the area of a circle can always be determined by using the formula pi R squared, but that doesn’t keep the formula from working every time.
God doesn’t expect me to come to Him in prayer with perfect understanding of His Word and my theology all nice and clear. As my Henry says, â€œGod answers my prayers better than I can pray them.â€ God just wants me to bring it all to Him. The requests, the uncertainties, the fears, the joys, and all the rest â€“ bring it and let’s talk and cry and maybe even beat our fists. And in the end, He and I are still together.
Jesus, Lover of my Soul by Steve McPherson