Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple that is called the Beautiful Gate to ask alms of those entering the temple. Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked to receive alms. And Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John, and said, "Look at us." And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, "I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!" And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. And leaping up he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God, and recognized him as the one who sat at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, asking for alms. And they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.
While he clung to Peter and John, all the people, utterly astounded, ran together to them in the portico called Solomon’s. And when Peter saw it he addressed the people: "Men of Israel, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we have made him walk?
This beggar had been lame since birth, and in an instant (when all he was expecting was alms) was healed. How many years had the man been lame? From the time he was born until he was a man, so at least probably 16, 17 years. Years of sitting by the gate, begging. I wonder how many times he had asked God to heal him. Did he still have hope? Or had he given up and accepted his lot in life?
One of the hard things about waiting, which I come back to again and again, is contained within the uncertainty of it. If we know the length of the wait, we can hold on. Or, as with a woman in labor, if we know the happiness that comes at the end of the wait (and that it for sure will end), we can endure not knowing exactly how long it will take. When we are waiting for something that is not guaranteed (a new job, a mate, a pregnancy, healing) and has no set end, well, that's when we doubt and wonder and want to give up. We lose faith that God is paying attention, that He sees us, that He is, indeed, working it all for good.
The man is just laying at the gate. His friends and the whole neighborhood have seen him there for years. They know him. They know that he was born lame and that he can't walk. So when Peter and John, through the power of the Holy Spirit, heal him, there is no doubt. Unlike when we watch some TV show with people throwing away crutches or leaping from wheelchairs and cynically wonder if they were planted in the audience, this Jewish audience had no doubt. They had seen a miracle. The Lord was at work. The people are hanging on the words of Peter. Later, in Acts 4:4, we read:
But many of those who had heard the word believed, and the number of the men came to about five thousand.
FIVE THOUSAND people believed in Jesus after seeing this man healed and hearing the words of Peter. Five thousand. The man had to wait for years and years for healing so that the miracle could happen at just the right moment in time and would lead to an overwhelming number of people coming to know Jesus. If I believed that my waiting had a purpose, maybe a much bigger purpose than I can imagine, would I wait more patiently? More graciously? More easily? Once again, it all comes down to faith to believe God's promises to me, and to being brave enough to hope in His goodness. As I type this, I'm reminded of a song by Addison Road (one of my new favorites): YouTube - Addison road - Hope Now (w/ lyrics)
It always DOES come down to faith, and hope in the character and goodness of God.