It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them. He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword. When he saw that this met with approval among the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also. This happened during the Festival of Unleavened Bread. After arresting him, he put him in prison, handing him over to be guarded by four squads of four soldiers each. Herod intended to bring him out for public trial after the Passover. So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him. The night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries stood guard at the entrance. Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. “Quick, get up!” he said, and the chains fell off Peter’s wrists. Then the angel said to him, “Put on your clothes and sandals.” And Peter did so. “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me,” the angel told him. Peter followed him out of the prison, but he had no idea that what the angel was doing was really happening; he thought he was seeing a vision. They passed the first and second guards and came to the iron gate leading to the city. It opened for them by itself, and they went through it. When they had walked the length of one street, suddenly the angel left him. Then Peter came to himself and said, “Now I know without a doubt that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from Herod’s clutches and from everything the Jewish people were hoping would happen.” Acts 12:1-11
Why was Peter saved and James had to die? We ask ourselves questions similar to this one on a daily basis. Why does one twin survive and the other one doesn’t? Why would God take someone so young and full of life? Why hasn’t my loved one been healed? Why was I laid off work? Why God, why? The questions come, and we are left without answers. We know though that God has a plan and He will use everything to His glory, even these difficult and heartbreaking circumstances. It is tough for us here on earth because we don’t see the entire picture.
But God sees it all and He knows exactly what He’s doing. God will use our suffering to strengthen us and to glorify Him. With every ounce of pain, we draw closer to Him. The Lord knew what He was doing with Peter and He knew that Peter’s story would help us all in our faith walk. I’ve seen the story acted out in past Vacation Bible School lessons and I have to say it’s extremely moving and powerful. To know that an Angel broke Peter out of prison is absolutely incredible. The kids always seem to enjoy this story and hopefully it’s one that stays with them for years to come. With prayer and faith – God can do all things friends. We just have to remember that through the laugher and the tears.
Lord of Everything, we give You thanks and praise for all our many blessings. You are there with us in the trenches and You celebrate with us on the mountaintops. Help us Lord to continue to praise You in the storms of life and keep the lines of prayers continuously open. We love You and we thank You. Amen.