Late last week, I discovered another friend who has to do battle with serious cancer. It’s the plague of aging. Women face breast cancer, and men have trouble with their prostrate. Both my older and young brothers have wrestled with the gorilla, debated how to take it on, and then gone through the medical procedures. Hearing about my friend having to enter the ring brought back the restless nights and the struggle to sleep.
The death threat troubles us all and that’s what captured my attention as Luke tells the story of the Apostle Peter’s imprisonment in Jerusalem. Stephen had already been stoned to death. Then James, Peter’s close friend and one of the original Twelve, was quickly executed by Herod Agrippa I on his arrest. Peter escaped only because the King was religious and didn’t want to decapitate him during the Passover. The Apostle is in jail, chained between two soldiers, but check out how much Melatonin or Ambien he had to take.
“Now the night before Herod intended to bring Peter out to be executed, he was sleeping between two soldiers, bound by two chains, and more guards posted in front of the prison doors to keep him in. Then suddenly the Lord’s angel stood beside Peter, dazzling light illuminated his cell. The angel jabbed him in the side to get him to wake up. ‘Hurry, get up!’ The chains fell off Peter’s wrists. ‘Get dressed and tie your sandals.’ Peter did and then the angel said, ‘Get that robe around you and follow me!’
Peter did what the angel said and followed him, still not knowing what was going on. He thought he was seeing a vision. They went right by the first guard, the second, and then they came to the iron gate that exited out into the city. It opened by itself and they went out.
When they had walked the length of one of the alleys, suddenly the angel left him. That’s the moment Peter realized he wasn’t dreaming. ‘Now I know for sure that the Lord sent his angel and rescued me from Herod’s hands and from all that the Jewish people were expecting.’” Acts 12:6-11
It's normal to be afraid and to have trouble sleeping when death threatens our own lives or the life of a friend, but the Apostle Peter had personally seen the risen Jesus—the One who snatched Stephen from the mob and James from the executioner. Peter knew that death could only bring him to the doors of heaven to be welcomed home by Jesus. Peter challenges me to join him in faith, not only trusting Him for myself but also for my friend. This faith can begin to help me rest.
LORD, I’ve seen you heal my brothers the last few years from the threat of cancer. Do the same now for my friend. Thanks for the intense prayers going up from the sweet church he’s pastored for so many years, and give rest, not only to him, but to his wife and his sons.
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