Herod the king discovered popularity with certain Jews by killing Christians, and so “he killed James the brother of John with the sword” (Acts 12:2). Peter was next, but it was not to be. God intervened; “an angel of the Lord stood next to him, and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him, saying, ‘Get up quickly.’ And the chains fell off his hands” (Acts 12:7). Peter was led past sleeping guards and open gates and deposited outside the jail and inside the city.
It is fair to ask, why was Peter rescued and not James? Why one and not the other, why not both or neither? I do not know the answer to this, but I do know that neither was more important to God, nor more loved by God, because death is no worse a fate than life to the faithful, and both rest in the hands of God.
Perhaps due to the death of James, when Peter was taken, “earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church” (Acts 12:5). Also, due to the death of James, their faith was lacking. When a servant girl interrupted the disciples and informed them Peter was outside waiting at the door, safe and unharmed, their response was a faithless, “You are out of your mind” (Acts 12:15).
The farming town was in the midst of a long drought and the people gathered at church to pray. Twelve year old Susie came, as well, and it was good she did. By her side on the pew laid her red umbrella. She alone thought to bring one.
“Peter continued knocking, and when they opened the door, they saw him and were amazed” (Acts 12:16). The disciples did one thing wrong, they did not have faith. Nevertheless, they did one thing right, they prayed anyway. Their prayer lacked faith, but they were faithful to pray. Pray and have faith, but if you find faith difficult, pray anyway. And bring an umbrella.
Father God, I know that You are faithful and true. I know that You can do all things. I know that what You promise will happen.
God, I have faith. Help me with my faith. May I trust You and live my life reflecting my faith and confidence in You. When I pray, may I not be surprised, but still amazed, when You answer.