what I learned from Anna
I remember the day of our seventh anniversary. I woke up, looked around and found my husband watching me. He smiled. “Has it really been seven years?”
It had. Years that flutter away with the spinning of time. Years I pray are simply the beginning of a lifetime.
Anna, daughter of Phanuel of the tribe of Asher (a Jewish woman in the New Testament) was married for seven short years before laying her husband to rest. During a time-period when the average marrying age was fifteen, she would have become a widow about the age when I began my married life.
Only seven years. I know how short that time really is.
Translators are a bit undecided if Scripture says that she was then a widow until 84 years old or a widow for the next 84 years. (Luke 2:37 text and footnotes) Either way, she was a widow a very long time.
This past year that has been so full of hardship and indescribable joys. I’ve been writing the story of how God has taken my pain and redeemed it and how I believe that He will continue to redeem the broken pieces that are left.
It may simply be that my mind is wrapped up in this concept but when I read these few verses about Anna in the Christmas story, I am reminded again of the way that God redeems pain.
And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.
Scripture says that Anna never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. She had buried a husband while (probably) in her twenties and then spent dozens of years alone. I cringe at the thought of my husband being away from me for a day or two, let alone a lifetime. I think I would have crumbled but Anna became a prophetess instead.
And God gave her the most wondrous of gifts. A taste of redemption so vivid, so breathtaking, it makes me want to dance in joy for her.
To this woman who bore her pain to the throne room of God—He gave the chance to see the ultimate redemption in flesh. Jesus. Yeshua. Emmanuel. God-with-us.
And she knew, right then! Not like, thirty-three years later when He rose from the dead. Nope. It was right then, when He was a tiny squalling infant. She knew redemption had come.
It says that she “gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.” (Luke 2:38) She knew who it was. And the years of standing in the temple, worshiping and praying, were redeemed in a single moment.
Now my mind won’t let go of the calling—the echo her life leaves in the pages of my Bible. God hears every single cry. He is not ignorant of our pain and the miracle of His redemption is coming.
Oh, how I want to be faithful. I want to hold firm to Him. I want to know His voice like Anna knew His voice.
In the years between my sorrows and the redemption—I want to spend my time worshiping my Creator-God. My Savior-God. My Jehovah-Jirah. Emmanuel. The God who is right here with me.
Even if it takes eighty-four years—when the redemption arrives, I want it to find me on my knees in prayer, worshiping Him.
**portions of this article were originally published here.