The name “Rhoda” may not be the first female name you’d think of if someone asked you to name a female character in the Bible. She didn’t receive much Bible coverage since she is only mentioned once in the 12th chapter of Acts. This chapter is primarily about Apostle Peter and his miraculous escape from prison. Rhoda had a supporting role in the story. She just answered a knock at the gate and reported what she saw. That was the easy part. The hard part was handling the doubt and skepticism from those around her.
Peter had been put in prison by King Herod who had James the brother of John killed with the sword (12:2). Not wanting to leave anything to chance, Herod had 16 of his soldiers to guard one man, Peter. Church members prayed for God to rescue Peter from the hands of Herod. An angel appeared to Peter and broke the chains off his hands. Peter walked out of prison passing all the guards without any interference from them. Peter went to the house of Mary the mother of John, surname Mark.
This is where the damsel, Rhoda, comes into the story. She was one of those inside Mary’s house who were praying for Peter. She perhaps was probably fairly young since a damsel was a young unmarried woman. Peter knocked at the outside gate’s door. Rhoda heard the knock and went outside. Peter must have spoken because it says in verse 14: And when she knew Peter’s voice, she opened not the gate for gladness, but ran in, and told how Peter stood before the gate.
Bless her heart, Rhoda was so excited that she forgot all about letting Peter in and runs into the house to tell them their prayers had been answered. According to verse 15 of this chapter, what she got in return for her good news was being told she was mad. Perhaps because of her age, they didn’t take her seriously – a child seen but not heard. Or, too, although they were praying for Peter’s deliverance, their faith was weak. Maybe feeling a sense of hopelessness since they had only recently lost James who died by the sword.
I do relate to their doubts. Sometimes I pray about something but without the faith that I should. That the outcome is already written on the wall, so to speak, and there isn’t much of anything that can be done to change the expected dire outcome. The church members were perhaps expecting the worst news that Peter would meet a similar fate as James.
Rhoda stood up to this skepticism by insisting that Peter was outside. She refused to back down even though they didn’t believe her. When she wouldn’t back down, they still shrugged it off with saying she had seen an angel.
Have you ever tried to convince someone of something you took on faith to be the truth and was met with disbelief?
I’ve told a number of people about how I learned I was living on the Autism Spectrum and how I believe the Lord brought it all about. I don’t believe the who, where, when, and how was a matter of coincidence. When it came down to it, the Lord gave me my diagnosis when He saw fit to give it to me in the way that He did. Some folks take me at my word and are supportive but I have met some skeptics. It can be discouraging to receive a less than supportive response when it is about something you are so enthused about as Rhoda was about Peter.
Rhoda did not have to wait long for vindication. Peter continued knocking outside and when they opened the door, they found out Rhoda wasn’t mad after all and that Peter wasn’t an angel. It doesn’t say whether Rhoda said something like, “I told you so”, or not. She sure had a right to since they had accused her of being crazy.
This young woman set the example of praying with faith. She wasn’t praying for Peter just for the ritual of doing so. She believed her prayer for Peter went beyond the house ceiling. She was thrilled to see Peter but I don’t think she was as shocked of Peter’s return as the other people who didn’t take Rhoda’s word for it. They didn’t believe until they saw Peter with their own eyes. Although they prayed for Peter’s survival, they had some serious doubt that they would ever see Peter again.
When telling others about the Lord working in our lives, sometimes we’ll be met with skepticism. Perhaps even from people in our inner circle. Rhoda, after all, wasn’t in the midst of enemies but with fellow believers. We must stand firm in what we believe to be an answered prayer or a conviction on our hearts to do whatever even when others tell us we are crazy.
Such as some might have thought Noah was crazy when he was building an ark, Daniel facing a lion’s den for defying King’s orders by praying to God, and Abraham going on a journey to a promised land even though he did not know where he was going. We know the outcome of these Bible stories. The ark withstood the flood, the lions didn’t touch Daniel, and if you look on a globe or world map, you’ll find a country named Israel.