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What Can Anna Teach Us?

John Barnett

Look at Anna [Luke 2:22-40]. She was a widow, she was alone, and she had no place to go. That is what it says. She was limited to the 40 acres of the Temple courts. But what kind of life did she lead?

1. She was old but not hopeless (v. 36) . Anna was either 84 or 104 years old, either way you do the math of Luke’s account you come up with someone who resources of time, health, strength, and future plans should be all used up. But not Anna. The secret of her strength was in how she viewed God. He was neither distant to her nor detached. If that was what the years had done to her she would have become dulled and lifeless. No to this saintly woman God was near to her and at work in her life. The presence of God brings life and hope to even those who by every other measure should be hopeless. Anna lived and walked in hope and saw God’s Hand all about her life.

2. She knew pain but not bitterness (v. 37a). Losing her support and fellowship in a husband was painful, but she did not become embittered. Sorrow can either soften our lives and make us compassionate and kind — or we can allow pain and sorrow to harden us into harsh and bitter people. Which way are you allowing your pains and troubles to shape your life?

3. She knew limits but not uselessness (v. 37b). Anna couldn’t get out anymore, she couldn’t travel, shop, visit, and get away — she was limited physically but unlimited spiritually. Notice that she never left the Temple. That means that she had a world that was only a portion of 40 acres big. But her life was all about what she could do not what she couldn’t do. She could excel in worship, she could offer her adoration to Him at any time and that is about all we ever get to know about her from God's Word.

4. She knew loneliness but not emptiness (v. 38). Do you see what her prayers had done? She was alone from every perspective but God’s. He was in touch with her constantly. And as they talked her guided her around to be involved in what mattered to Him.

So an elderly, widowed woman who had no where to go, no one to share her life with, no security by normal standards - greets us with a life as fragrant as Heaven. How? She chose by the Spirit of God to say no to hopelessness, bitterness, uselessness, and emptiness. She said yes to self-denial, she said yes to prayer, and she said yes to worship. What a life, what a testimony, and what a model. May the daughters of Anna increase greatly!

Taken from "Look Into Christ's Eyes" by Discover the Book Ministries.

Originally published September 03, 2010.