“There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived seven years with her husband after her marriage, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple, but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer. And coming forward at that very time, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem.” ~Luke 3:36-38
My last post was about seeking God and not His promised rewards; those will come on their own as God sees fit, but our priority as Christians needs to be on God Himself.
The story of Anna the prophetess exemplifies this. She was married for seven years. That’s it – just seven years before her husband died. Marriage and parenthood are supposed to be two relationships, marked by unconditional love, that emulate God’s love for His people. We can’t fully love the way God does, but in these two relationships, if we do it right we come as close as we can.
However, Anna was denied these things. She was denied a loving marriage. The bible doesn’t mention any children; since other details about her life and family are mentioned, I’m assuming she had no children. But if you know for sure please tell me! Regardless, most girls dream of growing up and getting married. Especially back then. Anna got that life, and then it was taken away from her.
Did she get bitter, or turn on God? No. She may have for awhile, I’m certain she was hurt; but she opened herself up to be healed by God and to grow in her walk with Him. Ultimately, she spent her life not on a human family or any earthly thing; she spent her life with God. Granted, she was brought to a place where there was nothing left for her on earth. Facing that, she turned her desires and her focus to Heaven. Her temporary home was empty, so her sights were set on her eternal home. We aren’t all brought to such a place of despair; sometimes we have to shift that focus on our own.
But look what happens when we do! Anna, at age 84, having spent most of her life as a widow, was essentially living in the temple and spending her waking hours in fasting and prayer. She worshiped and prayed to God for the sake of being with Him – not to gain a reward, but just to be with Him. Her perspective was right, and guess what happened? God rewarded her anyway! Anna spent so much time worshiping in the temple that she was in the temple when Jesus Christ was brought in to be dedicate. Anna’s there praying, desiring God, and then sees Him as an 8-day-old infant. Not only did she see Him, but she knew Him for who He was. She had been blessed with prophesy and her time with God honed her discernment. She knew exactly who she was looking at, and she knew what He would ultimately do. She had the chance to speak over Him. God literally rewarded her with Himself.
Jesus, we thank you that you are so faithful and giving of Yourself to us, when we just focus on You. Help us to keep our priorities straight and keep our eyes on You and Your light. Help us to see You as the true and ultimate reward, and to see anything you bless us with here on earth as a bonus.