Anna the prophetess was also there, a daughter of Phanuel from the tribe of Asher. She was by now a very old woman. She had been married seven years and a widow for eighty-four. She never left the Temple area, worshiping night and day with her fastings and prayers. At the very time Simeon was praying, she showed up, broke into an anthem of praise to God, and talked about the child to all who were waiting expectantly for the freeing of Jerusalem. — Luke 2:36–38
There were many things in Anna’s life that were disappointing. She lost her husband at a very early age, and she had no children. Much of what we know about Anna is by implication rather than direct knowledge. That she was allowed to occupy one of the temple apartments speaks volumes about her character. Her world was very much a male-dominated one where women were expected to be silent and unobtrusive. One of the key words that I see in Anna’s life is focus.
She didn’t look back with regret but rather she looked forward with hope.
That one thing alone could change the way we live. Think of the wasted energy we expend on regret. Obviously, grief plays a very necessary part in our lives, but grief adds to the tragedy when we allow it to define us. When grief defines us we forego the opportunity to truly live again. Although Anna knew heartache and loss, she focused on hope. When Paul wrote his first letter to the young Timothy he identified himself as, “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope” (1 Timothy 1:1). That is how Anna lived her life, waiting patiently for Christ who is our hope.
It wasn’t just her past that was harsh, for Anna lived under the cruel reign of Herod the Great. We know, too, that there was a lot of corruption in the priesthood. Just as today when we struggle with those who disappoint us in government or the pulpit, we have to choose where to focus our attention.
Where are you focusing your attention as you wait on God’s promise to you?
- Read Luke 2:36-38 again. How would you rate your patience from Very Patient to Very Impatient
Read Isaiah 40:25-31
- What is the byproduct of waiting on the Lord?
- Take a closer look at Isaiah 40:31. In what area of life do you need strength? What is God saying to you through this passage?
- What dream has God planted deep inside you? What prevents you from realizing that dream?
- Read the Scripture passage above. How would you have felt if you had been in Anna’s situation?
- Fill in the blanks in the statement that follows: This stinks. I expected to be ___________. I expected to have ___________. All the rules seem to be changing. I ____________! What do you expect God to do about your situation?
- “Anna dedicated her whole life to immersing herself in the Word of God and in His presence and sharing His Word with other women who came to the temple”. Based on what Anna did, what should you do in response to your situation?
- Anna had every reason to feel hopeless and useless. Yet, she believed God’s promise that she was valuable to Him. How do you know you are valuable to God? How does that make you feel?
- Anna prayed that the Messiah would come. For what are you praying and what do you expect to happen when that prayer is answered?
- For what are you watching? How do you expect God to overwhelm your life?
- What is the role of your ongoing relationship with God in regards to your personal and spiritual expectations?
- How do you discern God’s guidance from your feelings or the advice of others?
- Summarize the instructions of Isaiah 40:25-31 by completing the following statement:
Because God said ___________, I will ___________.
- Now write a prayer expressing your desire to wait for God’s answer to your prayers. Use this prayer as part of your daily time with God and as an expression of your desire to live with God-honoring patience as you wait for Him to reveal His plan to you.
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We encourage you to print out this article and carve out some quiet, devotional time to study Isaiah 40:25-31 and answer Sheila’s questions.