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God’s Quiet Work

“And behold, 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).

The early church began experiencing opposition immediately after it came into existence. The apostles were bold in their proclamation of the gospel, which angered the religious leaders. They were arrested numerous times and sometimes beaten. But no matter what the leaders did, they could not stop the spread of the gospel. The apostles considered it an honor to suffer for Christ, and they would not stop doing what He had commanded them to do just because a few people weren’t happy with it.

After some years, though, things began to get worse. James the brother of John was killed for his faith, and when Herod realized this made the people happy, he arrested Peter too and ordered his execution. The church was praying fervently for Peter while he sat in his jail cell, awaiting his death on the next day.

But that wasn’t what God had in mind. He sent an angel to free Peter and lead him out of the prison. Peter then made his way to the house where the believers were gathered to pray for him. He was left knocking at the gate for several minutes, because no one inside would believe that it was actually him.

This whole story is filled with irony. Nothing happened the way anyone might have expected. The believers were praying for Peter’s release, but when he showed up at their gate in the middle of the night, they didn’t believe it was him. They’d been expecting God to do something else; perhaps they were looking for a pardon from Herod or a dramatic earthquake to break the prison walls. But instead, God chose to send an unnamed angel who marched Peter out of jail right under the guards’ noses. All in all, it was a rather unthrilling escape.

When we ask God to do something, we tend to expect something magnificent that will blow us away with how awesome it is. And sometimes, that is indeed how God chooses to work. But other times, He takes a quieter approach. He doesn’t always knock the walls down; sometimes He hits you in the side and sneaks you out. Both are His work.

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