Daily encouragement

Video by

Katie Fox

ACF Devo Team

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Luke 2:38

Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.

Behind the Scenes

"You don't know what you're missing," I chided as I scooped up a spoonful of the soup my friend made us for dinner. I truly felt sorry for my toddler who had just declared emphatically, "I no like that," when I presented him with his bowl. In his defense, the floating pieces of dark green kale probably did look suspect. BUT, if he had just tried it, I was certain he would've gobbled down the creamy broth.

We've all been there, certain we know what's best. So often, though, we truly don't know what we're missing - be it good or bad. Because how can we know something we haven't ever experienced? We think we know how we'll discipline our kids until we're trying to do it. We think we know how to handle grief until we walk it. In so many ways in this life, we just don't know.

The only way to mildly mitigate this reality is to listen to those who have been there. Listen to the friend who has walked through parenthood already. Listen without presumption to the one who has walked through grief. Listen to those who just get parts of this life in a deeper way because they have experienced things we ourselves have not.

I believe the prophetess Anna is one such woman worth listening to.

Luke 2:36 describes Anna as very old. She had lost her husband after they were married for only 7 years, and for the subsequent 84 years, she had lived as a widow. One commentator says, "Anna was a remarkable woman. As a widow she knew pain and loss but had not become bitter. As an elderly woman she had not lost hope. Perhaps it was because she was a woman of worship and a woman of prayer."

It's not that difficult for me to imagine Anna at this point in her life as a Godly, elderly widow. I have that category in my mind. I have a friend, though, who recently lost her husband after they had been married for about seven years. She's still in her twenties. They didn't have kids yet. Just hitting the stride of their marriage, they had their whole lives ahead of them. And then suddenly, she was paradoxically both a 20-something and a widow. That category? Not so much. But this was Anna's story too.

It's easy to think of her as the old granny in the temple, so devoted to the Lord that of course she noticed Jesus when he arrived. Of course she recognized who he was and was so filled with joy and praise at finally seeing the One she had prayed for, that she started telling all who would listen.

But Anna had chosen single-minded devotion long before this day.

Make it Real

Instead of thinking of the over 100-year-old Granny Anna raving over baby Jesus in the Temple, consider the Anna who was probably in her early 20's when her hope for security and prosperity in this life was suddenly snatched away. Think of the Anna who said goodbye to the dreams she had likely had for her life at such a young age. Think of the Anna who, despite her grief and losing everything, chose to go all-in on her devotion to the One whom she knew was her only hope.

Because Anna, she knew - profoundly - what she was missing. She was missing the care, provision, protection, and future hope that a husband provided in the Jewish culture where women had few rights independent from their male relatives. She needed someone to redeem her life, for sure, and perhaps because her circumstances allowed her to see so clearly what she was missing, she was able to identify the Lord as the only One who could truly redeem her shattered life.

“She gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem." When she saw Jesus, she recognized him as hope, redemption, and restoration incarnate. Everything she had been hoping and praying for, everything she knew she truly needed - he was here.

What about us? We have security in our bank accounts and hope in our families and fulfillment in our work. Do we know what we’re missing? How many people in the temple that day didn’t have the eyes to see Jesus? They had no idea what they were missing because the things of this life had convinced them they were just fine. But Anna, she knew, and she didn't want anyone else to miss it either!

May we have the wisdom to listen to what Anna knew to be true: The only One who is worthy of your devotion...the only One who can truly redeem your life in the deepest, realest ways you really need...he is here! Will you recognize, praise, and proclaim him today? Or will you miss it?

End in Prayer

Father, teach us to follow Anna's example of worship, prayer, and dependence on you. Help us to listen well, that we might fully experience the joy and hope Immanuel brings and be moved to share it with others. Thank you, Jesus! Amen.

Written by

Kimber Gilbert

ACF Devo Team Leader