Anna heard a commotion. It was coming from the direction of Simeon, he was holding a child in his arms as the parents stood by. Simeon’s voice was raised and emotional.
“For my eyes have seen Thy salvation”
His voice cried up toward the sky. He was talking to God. Simeon always talked to God but this time his voice sounded different. Anna detected an exuberance and weariness all at the same time.
Anna and Simeon were waiting for the same thing. To witness a revelation from God.
It was 70 years earlier that Anna’s life took an unexpected turn. A young bride just at the beginning of her journey, Anna looked forward to her future with her husband of only a few years. Then something unthinkable happened. He was gone so quickly. Broken and confused. This wasn’t how life was supposed to be.
The grief was burdensome. The loss tore open a place in her soul that she hadn’t known before. When she was young she lived under the security of her parents. This new union gave her confidence and purpose as a married woman.
Now all of it was gone. She didn’t know who she was. Not a child nor a wife.
She had no choice but to return to her roots. Broken and raw she was enfolded back into the home of her father, Phanuel.
The pain of loss gave her permission to grieve. Grief permitted questioning. Questioning lead to wonder. A new world was beginning for Anna.
Anna’s family name was Asher. Her ancestry had a rich history of finding strength in adversity. They knew what it meant to be displaced. Exactly how Anna felt. In spite of suffering their hearts held on to the belief that God hadn’t written the last sentence in their story. This intrigued Anna. The loss of her love lead her on a quest toward an even bigger Love story. It began to consume her. It redesigned her. It called her.
And now here she was 70 years later. Telling the Love story over and over to others in the community who also were intrigued by Love. Night and day she remained in the temple. She prayed to God. She participated in fasting, more hungry for God than her own comfort.
A theme so neatly and subtly written within the story line of her own family dropped clues. Even her fathers name pointed towards this Love story. His name meant “face of God”. God was very active. Those looking at God through prayer and fasting could see His movement. This had become her life. Although she was old, like Simeon, she had an energy that was infectious. She had an authority that others respected. She had a purity that exposed mediocrity.
This was the first time she heard Simeon say these words. The instantly caught her attention.
“For my eyes have seen Thy salvation”
She knew what Simeon meant. God had told him he would see the Messiah before his work in life was through.
Was this it? Was He here? Would she see the inspiration behind her father’s name?
Would she see the face of God?
She moved quickly to where Simeon stood. There He was. So tiny.
How perfect that God would save His people in the most ridiculous way! In a way that only He would be able to figure out. All the words in the Scriptures said it would be this way. But now that He was here it seemed surreal.
The floodgates opened within her. Gratitude began pouring out of every part of her being. She cheered with “thank-you’s” to God. The handwriting of God through her family story was so obvious. It all pointed this way. Even the loss of her beloved husband directed her path to this Love.
Faith takes you past what is visable and deposites seeds of mystery and hope deep within. Present experiences are only part of the story. God has not written the final sentence in the Love story.
More alive than she had ever been Anna began running to all her friends in the community who also were looking for God’s revelation. “God is writing more of the story” she told them.
“God-life has come to us in the ordinary so that we may know the extraordinary.”
What do you think about the life of Anna?
What does her story reveal to you this Christmas?
**If you are inspired by Anna’s story you can read it in Luke 2:36-38.