We begin a two-part series on appreciation with a discussion of Christ’s teaching on testimony, i.e., sharing appreciation of God. Our understanding is based on his interactions with people he healed: what he instructed them to do or how he received their reaction to the healing. We examine his interactions with a man he freed from demons and a woman he healed of long-term bleeding. We see that he directed both healing recipients to testify about what God had done for them. He gave a direct instruction to the man freed from demons. However, his instruction to the woman healed of long-term bleeding was indirect: he would not stop looking for her until she came forward and testified. We also recall an example on testimony based on Peter’s interactions with his faith family after God released him miraculously from Herod’s prison.
INSPIRE OTHERS TO SEEK GOD A testimony inspires others to seek God by sharing with them personal experience that illustrates appreciation for his mercy and power and effectiveness in granting prayers and fulfilling promises. In addition to inspiring others by testifying to one’s personal experience of God, giving testimony also is a way to show appreciation to other people that have shared a person’s concern, either through physical contributions or by helping channel the concern’s to God through prayer. It is important to let such people know that God has granted their prayers and inform them so they would direct subsequent prayers according to need.
God provides input to solving our various problems but expects us to apply human effort as part of finding the solution. Furthermore, the human effort could be closely tied with and necessary to accepting and utilizing God’s input. Because the strategy and timing of his intervention are generally not known a priori, we have to actively seek solutions at the human level in order to place ourselves in position to receive his intervention. That is, we work diligently because we have faith that he will intervene and we want to be ready to accept and utilize his intervention.
Peter’s miraculous escape from Herod’s prison [Acts 12] helps illustrate this aspect of our relationship with God. King Herod started a new wave of persecution of Christians in Jerusalem. After he killed James, John’s brother, and noticed Jews appeared pleased with the killing, he arrested Peter, intending to kill him also. To avoid having to kill someone during the Feast of Unleavened bread, he held Peter in prison under maximum security, intending to try him publicly and kill him after the festival. Members of the church prayed ceaselessly for Peter. They gathered at the house of Mary, the mother of John, also called Mark, and prayed earnestly day and night for Peter. An angel appeared to Peter in prison on the night before his scheduled public trial. The angel freed him, guided him to about one street length out from the prison, and left him. Peter first visited with the church family at Mary’s house where they were praying for him. He told them how God brought him out of the prison. Then he left and went away so Herod and his men could not find him when they looked for him in the morning. We learn several lessons based on Peter’s experience.