There is Jesus Power in the hard times

Acts 9:32-43.

Hard times are nothing new. Hard times, times of trials and tribulations, seem to be as constant as the sunrise. You can watch the news on any given day and hear of the hard times of those around our country. You can read the morning paper and learn of the trials of those in our own community. You can totally avoid the media and still become familiar with hard times simply by listening to the troubles of those around you. Hard times are not simply the possession of others, hard times are experienced by each and every person who lives on planet earth today. You’ve had your difficulties. Hard times have knocked at your door and announced their arrival.

There will be days when it seems like life is caving in around you and as hard as you try to hold up the walls - you can’t seem to do it. Hard times will drain you. Hard times will exhaust you. Hard times will take the enthusiasm and excitement of childhood and transform it into a listless and lifeless existence. Hard times will use you up.

Those who say that hard times are for those who are living in sin need to consider the obedience of Elijah who stood and faced 850 false prophets in the name of Almighty God!

Hard times had convinced Elijah that he was used up, that he couldn’t go on, and that he was finished. Here was a great man of God that was ready to throw in the towel because hard times were pressing him.

Aeneas and Dorcas’ stories are very different, but they are also the same in some ways. Hope had been replaced with hopelessness. Hard times had taken their toll. Trials had trounced them, but God wasn’t finished with them yet.

Peter was traveling all about the country telling people about the Good News of Jesus Christ. He had no idea what he would run into, but whatever came his way, he was willing to confront it with the power of Almighty God.

When Peter arrived in Lydda there were already followers of Jesus in the city as we read in Acts 9:32 - Peter traveled there to visit the "saints." There in Lydda, Peter met a man named Aeneas. Aeneas had been bedridden for eight years as a paralytic. Take a look at Acts 9:32-35,

I can only imagine, because it’s not stated in the Scripture, that Aeneas felt his best days were behind him.

I’m not so sure that Aeneas is the focus of the story. Luke ends his little four verse, six sentence story of Aeneas with these words, "All those who lived in Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord." I’m convinced that "all those" are the ones Luke really wants us to take notice of in this little story. God used the healing of Aeneas to bring "all those" to the knowledge of the power of Almighty God. It’s not that God didn’t care about Aeneas, but rather it was that God also cared about "all those" who were wandering around like a sheep without a shepherd. God used the healing of Aeneas to bring the entire city to a saving knowledge of Jesus.

There is Good News for hard times, my friend, and it is this - God’s love is demonstrated to us in Jesus. Just twelve miles from Lydda was another town called Joppa. The town is still around today and is a suburb of Tel Aviv, Israel. There was a beautiful woman who was busy doing good in her own town. She became ill and eventually died. The people heard that Peter was just down the road and sent some men to get him. Peter made the twelve mile walk to Joppa and found the house where Dorcas had died. Listen to the story told by Luke. Verses 36 onward.

If you don’t pay attention you can very easily miss one of the most beautiful and compelling parts of the story about Dorcas. In verse 36, Luke tells us that Dorcas was a lady who was always going about doing good and helping the poor. In verse 39, after Peter arrives, the widows took Peter upstairs where their friends’ body was lying. Then something beautiful happened. The ladies took out the robes and other articles of clothing that Dorcas had made and showed them to one another while they mourned her death. I can just imagine the stories they told of how this wonderful Christian woman had touched the lives of the poor people of her city with the articles of clothing she had made. A shirt for a little boy; a dress for a curly-haired little girl; a robe for a young mother. Dorcas had touched people’s lives because of her commitment to Jesus and her ability to make clothing. Dorcas had touched others’ lives, but God wasn’t finished with her yet - He was going to touch her life. Peter said, "Get up" and she did.

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