Tabitha – When All Hope Seems Lost

A friend of mine has decided that she is going to help me become a writer and has been giving me a few assignments to complete. This time my subject is Tabitha. Me having vaguely heard of Tabitha, if at all, decided to do some research so as not to disappoint my mentor.

Consequently, when I did a Google search for Tabitha, the first sentence that came up was: “Tabitha is an American fantasy sitcom and a spin-off of Bewitched that aired on ABC from September 10, 1977 to January 14, 1978.”

Now of course, we do not want to discuss a fictional character from someone’s childhood, but a significant female character of the Bible. So, let’s get started on the story of this little known, but wonderfully generous woman!

Acts 9:32-35 gives us just a little background and context. In these scriptures, we find Peter, who was traveling from place to place, visiting the town of Lydda. During this time, he meets a man named Aeneas who was paralyzed and bedridden for eight years.  Peter proclaims to him, “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you! Get up, roll up your sleeping mat!” (verse 34). Aeneas is then healed and the whole population of Lydda and Sharon turned to the Lord after seeing him walking around. This is where Tabitha, also known as Dorcas, is introduced (Acts 9:36-42).

There was a believer in Joppa named Tabitha (which in Greek is Dorcas). Acts 9:36 NLT

Research finds that Tabitha was a Christian woman who lived in Joppa and was one of Jesus’ early disciples. 

The name Tabitha is a Hebrew baby name, meaning beauty and grace. It is derived from the Aramaic word for gazelle. Dorcas, a Greek name, also means gazelle. During this period, there was a mixed population of Jews and Gentiles in the area. Both groups commonly had a Hebrew and Greek name. Thus, the writer of Acts identifies her by both her names.

Tabitha is said to have been doing “kind things for others and helping the poor” (verse 36). However, Tabitha suddenly becomes ill and dies. As was the custom of that day, her body was washed for burial and then laid in an upstairs room for viewing. Believers heard that Peter was nearby and sent two men to beg him to come as soon as possible.

Peter complies and when he arrives, he is led upstairs where he comes upon a room that is full of mourners. Grief stricken, weeping widows bombard him, showing him the coats and other clothes that Tabitha had made for them. At this point, Peter clears the room, kneels down and prays. Once his prayer is complete, he turns to the body and commands, “Get up, Tabitha” (verse 40). Tabitha opens her eyes, and seeing Peter, sits up! Presenting her his hand, Peter assists her up and calls the believers and widows back into the room, where he presents a living Tabitha to them. 

The news spread through the whole town, and many believed in the Lord. And Peter stayed a long time in Joppa, living with Simon, a tanner of hides. Acts 9:42-43 NLT

Two things we know for certain about Tabitha.

One, we can consider her a disciple of Jesus just by her workings within her community. Before her death, Tabitha directly influenced numerous lives by providing support to others through her good deeds and gifts of mercy. Tabitha was living her best life, perhaps her dream, helping widows and the poor. After her death, her mourners were devastated. They could not say enough wonderful accolades about the service she freely gave to them.

Let’s take a minute to let that sink in.

Second, through her death, we can presume that she was a believer who shared her faith. Otherwise, remembering the miracle they saw performed on Aeneas, her mourners may not have thought to beg Peter to come with them. The peoples’ lives whom she had touched felt the loss of her so grievously that it was inconceivable to them to let her perish from existence unnoticed.

Although we don’t see Tabitha again in Scripture, I believe after her resurrection she continued to touch lives and make a difference, thereby bringing more people closer to God. Tabitha was afforded a miracle that she didn’t ask to receive, but God saw fit to give her another opportunity to continue living her dream.

But what if we feel that our dreams have died?  Short of death, nothing should stop us from seeking God’s purpose for our lives. Scripture tells us:

You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail. Proverbs 19:21 NLT

We can use Tabitha as an example that even in death, God has the final say. God’s purpose for our lives does matter and God’s dream for us never dies. 

Most precious Heavenly Father, we pray for all our sisters who feel that their dreams have died. We pray for their comfort and peace in the hard times as well as the easier times. We pray that you give them joyous spirits that will endure the journey. May their spirits take on the speed of gazelles running towards You, sweet Father. Resurrect an ember in their souls that will ignite into a raging fire, a fire burning long and hot to serve You. We thank You in advance for Your guidance, grace, love, and favor that You will provide to fulfill Your Purpose on our lives. In the precious name of Jesus, we pray. AMEN.

Written by Melony Henderson.     

Please note all scripture was taken from the NLT – New Living Translation

Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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One Comment

  1. Pam-Reply
    February 13, 2019 at 9:20 AM

    This is beautifully written and I love the intro. Interesting that not much was said about Tabitha but we know many became believers when they heard what had happened. Thank you for your message of “hope” and rekindling a dream within many of us! God is good!

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