Now in Yafo (Joppa), there was a talmidah (disciple) named Tavita (Tabitha, in Greek Dorcas) which means “gazelle”; she was always doing tzedakah (charity) and other good deeds. It happened that just at that time she took sick and died. After washing her, they laid her in a room upstairs. Lud is near Yafo, and the talmidim (disciples) had heard that Kefa (Peter) was there so they sent two men to him and urged him, “Please come to us without delay.” Kefa got up and went with them.
When he arrived, they led him into the upstairs room. All the widows stood by him, sobbing and showing all the dresses and coats Tavita had made them while she was still with them. But Kefa put them all outside, kneeled down and prayed. Then, turning to the body, he said, “Tavita,! Get up!” She opened her eyes; and on seeing Kefa she sat up. He offered her his hand and helped her to her feet ; then, calling the believers and widows, he presented her to them alive. This became known all over Yafo and many people put their trust in the Lord.
Acts 9:36-42, CJB
This may seem like an odd passage of Scripture to share for Mother’s Day. This is the story of Tavita, or Dorcas, as you may be more familiar, and there are some things in the life of Dorcas that stand out to me as a mother, daughter and friend. I do not know if Tavita was a mother or not, it does not seem so, since there is no mention of it, but she is the kind of woman that I would like to be like in front of my children and any others who spend time with me.
When I look into the life of Tavita, I cannot help but wonder if she ever battled insignificance. Insignificance is something I feel like I am constantly battling at the home front; this same insignificance is voiced often from friends here locally, as well as in emails I receive and posts that I read on social media platforms.
What difference do we really make? Do we have purpose in this daily grind? I am just a (stay at home mom, homeschool mom, teacher, nurse, administrative assistant, single mom, single adult, waitress…)?
Tavita is a woman living in a culture driven by men. Women don’t have a lot of power, influence or education in first century Yafo. Tavita resides in a big coastal city, Yafo (Joppa) which was the city that Jonah in the Old Testament fled to in order to hide from God. What kind of eternal difference can she really make, she is one woman?
This one woman, in a big city, is forever remembered in God’s Word here in Acts until the end of time. She made a difference and God made sure her story was not left out. Tavita is an encouragement and lived a life of impact, probably hidden in a sea of people, but she mattered and she was seen.
Tavita was first and foremost described as a talmidah. The word talmidah means a disciple who is a woman. Women can be disciples! Let’s GOOOO!!! A disciple is a person who follows the teaching of the Rabbi so closely that their identity is swallowed up in who the Rabbi is. A disciple is someone that so mirrors the Rabbi that when people come in contact with them, it is as if they see the love of the Rabbi and hear the Word of the Rabbi.
Tavita’s Rabbi was the Messiah, Yeshua (Jesus). How do I know that? When Tavita died, Peter, a disciple of Jesus was close by and they ran and asked him to come and comfort the community. Peter lived his life in a way that reflected Jesus as well. They did not send word to local synagogue leaders, they sent word to the Talmid of Yeshua to comfort them. I do not get the sense that the community was looking for her to be raised from the dead, they washed the body, and were preparing it for burial.
Tavita was a disciple who had the eyes and heart of Messiah. How do I know that? She saw those with need and was driven to meet those needs.
In Deuteronomy, the Bible emphasizes that widows are to be treated with compassion and offered protection. More verses in the New Testament in James and 1 Timothy also state this. When Jesus was walking the earth in the flesh, He proclaimed,
The Spirit of Adonai is upon me;
because He has anointed me to announce Good News to the poor;
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the imprisoned
and renewed sight to the blind,
to release those who have been crushed,
to proclaim a year of the favor of Adonai.”
Luke 4:18-19, Isaiah 61:1-2
Jesus pronounces the heart of God and that the Spirit of Adonai is upon Him. This is how you will be able to know: Good News to the poor, freedom for the imprisoned, sight to the blind, and hope for the crushed and broken. God is with them. God sees them. They matter to the heart of God.
Tavita saw the need of the widows, who were often counted with the poor and broken hearted. These widows would not have had incomes, they would not have been able to provide for themselves. Even if they knew how to sew for themselves, how would they be able to purchase the supplies? They were just trying to survive day in and day out in a city that didn’t see or care about them.
Tavita saw them. Tavita cared about them. Tavita had resources and a skill to help. I often wonder if Tavita ever prayed and asked, “But what can I do? I’m a nobody. I don’t have any skills except an ability to sew, what good is that?”
Perhaps Tavita worked in a shop as an apprentice and her boss allowed her to collect the scraps of fabric that were useless and Tavita was able to create dresses and coats from these scraps. Perhaps Tavita was a girl with the resources herself and did not have to use the scraps, but out of her own pocket, bought the fabric and sewed for the community.
Either way, Tavita saw a need because God gave her the eyes to see it. Tavita followed Jesus’s example so closely her heart was driven to meet the needs of these widows, as would the heart of Jesus if He were physically walking the streets of Joppa.
The skills of Tavita were not insignificant. Tavita may not have even known how much her little skill mattered to this community, but her heart, the heart of a talmidah, made a HUGE difference in the lives of the insignificant around her.
Then, Tavita died.
Tavita was trusted with death, because God wanted to show not only Tavita, but these widows, how much they mattered. They may have felt insignificant, but they were not insignificant in the least. God would have Peter, one of the BIG 12 disciples of Jesus come to their community.
I really love that. Peter did not refuse to come because those beckoning him were not world leaders, or the most influential, or people of importance who could donate millions to his ministry. Peter DID come because he too was dedicated to following wherever the Holy Spirit of the Living God led.
That is fire. I LOVE this passage on so many levels. Peter went to the unseen of society because that is where God was working and moving.
God loved these widows so very much, that He needed Tavita to die, so that they could see the lengths He would go to in order to be sure their needs were met. God knew Tavita would follow Him, He trusted her to be dead for a minute, in order to show her as well, the extremes He would go to in order that she would know her little skill was not insignificant at all but a really big deal. Don’t miss this:
THE OVERLOOKED, SIDELINED, BROKEN, DEAD and INSIGNIFICANT, are HEALED and RESURRECTED, called to LIFE to bring the Kingdom of Heaven, the Good News of Jesus, to a dying world. THAT IS FIRE!!!! COME ON!
You are not insignificant. What is it that God has given you that He wants to use in an impactful way as you just simply follow Jesus? Have you asked Him to open your eyes to who Jesus would see if He was walking the streets of your neighborhood? Your city? Your job site? Your school? Your carpool? Your family?
I have a friend, Catherine, she has an incredible eye for photography and she posts these pictures on social media. When I look at her pictures, I see the eye of God in His creation. She encourages me to slow down and be still and know Adonai is God.
This sweet friend also noticed a young person in her store who wanted a sticker, and so she bought it for them. That simple act has impacted my life, but think of the life of the young person that now will know they were seen, and the fact they wanted this sticker for their water bottle mattered. Are these HUGE things? Yes and no. It matters that they are done. This is the life of Tavita seen in my friend.
You matter. The enemy would love to keep you on the sidelines, insignificant, defeated because you are not enough, according to some random definition of what “enough” means. You are created on purpose, for purpose, and that purpose is to walk with God, to know God and to need God. So God, came Himself, not trusting you to anyone else, and His name is Jesus.
Jesus lived the life that showed the heart of God towards the world. For GOD so LOVED the WORLD HE GAVE HIS only SON that WHOEVER believes in Him will have eternal life, instead of being utterly destroyed. John 3:16 (CJB).
Your life is so significant to God, that God Himself gave His life on your behalf. It is time to battle insignificance together and pray for a fresh breath of the Holy Spirit in our lives, so that as we, who are perhaps hidden in this world, as we follow Jesus, will be able to see how the Good News of Jesus is still:
Announcing to the poor, freeing the captive, giving sight to the blind, and bringing wholeness to the crushed.
How closely we follow Jesus is of eternal significance. Let’s GOOO! Let’s Follow Jesus together!!!!
I Pray you all feel the loving gaze of Yeshua HaMeshiach (Jesus who is the Messiah) upon you this Mother’s Day. I pray you know you are seen and loved beyond measure.
May the Shalom (peace) of Yeshua fill your hearts.