Dwell in Me

Seeking God in the Every Day

Anna Proclaimed Christ

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I’ve been trying to write today and nothing is working. Does anyone else ever feel this way?

I wanted to come and write about Anna. I believe her calling was something she never would have expected or imagined–especially as a young woman. And I still do want to write about her because I think her story is especially powerful. I also think it’s important to lift up a woman who God used for his glory even though she probably did not get what she initially wanted in life. Even though she likely did not have children. Even though her husband died after only seven years of marriage. I don’t know what Anna wanted out of life. I can’t know that. But it’s not far fetched to think she would have expected to settle down with her husband for life or to have several children.

And I think it is important to be reminded that sometimes God’s plans are going to take us somewhere we never would have picked or somewhere we never thought we’d go. I don’t know if that’s what happened to Anna, but from my perspective, knowing what I know about who I am and how I feel while I’m waiting, it makes sense. 

So I wanted Anna to be part of my series. Part of my series about people who were called but who faced adversity getting to where God wanted them to be. But Anna doesn’t quite fit. And so this Monday is a post that doesn’t quite fit. And I just don’t feel up to rounding out the corners and smoothing it in and pretending it belongs where it doesn’t.

Apologies if that’s confusing for anyone . . .

So Anna: She was one of the first witnesses to proclaim Jesus as savior. She was in the temple when Mary and Joseph brought their 40-day-old baby to be presented, and she knew who he was when she saw him. We don’t know a lot about Anna. The Biblical account of her is only three verses long. It tells us a lot about her character, a little about her heritage, and next to nothing about the man she married or the children she may or may not have had. Anything outside of these verses is conjecture or inference, so take what I write with a grain of salt. Unlike David–whose life story could fill pages without any embellishment to the Biblical account–Anna’s moment in recorded history is just that: a moment.

And there [in the temple] 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 84 [or, for 84 years, depending on how you translate the Greek]. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. And coming up at that very hour [as Jesus was being presented], she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem” (Luke 2:36-38).

Apparently, many people take that last part–“to speak of him”–as an indication that she went around Jerusalem proclaiming the good news of the awaited Messiah’s birth. This would make her the first evangelist of the gospel–though more of a prophet of the Messiah than a recounting of what had been done, since Jesus was still an infant at the time.

Anna was very old–either 84 or over 100 depending on how you translate the verse–but apparently in good health. She could see, she could speak clearly, and she was able to move around well enough. And she offers this beautiful picture of a woman who walked closely enough with God as to recognize when she was in his presence. While Jesus was yet an infant, she recognized who he was.

She also offers us a model of devotion in the midst of tragedy.

Anna lost her husband after seven years of marriage–I personally think marriage without children–and she responded by dedicating herself wholly to God. As a young widow, she had every right to remarry. No one would have thought a thing about it if she’d found a new husband. I can imagine many friends and family members eagerly trying to connect her with this or that eligible bachelor.

We don’t know why she didn’t marry again. Did she not find the right man? Was she not sought after? Or did she know this was simply not God’s plan for her life? Either way, we see no sign of bitterness in Anna. No sign of grief. No sign of mourning. After up to 84 years as a widow, she has not only worked through any disappointment, but she has rooted herself in God, depending on him, trusting him, and giving herself completely to him.

I wonder how often she may have mediated on Isaiah 54:4-5:

Fear not, for you will not be ashamed; be not confounded, for you will not be disgraced; for you will forget the shame of your youth, and the reproach of your widowhood you will remember no more. For your Maker is your husband, the Lord of hosts is his name; and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, the God of the whole earth he is called.”

Either way, God had a plan for her life. And I can’t imagine that her life went as she may have imagined it. But I take comfort–and perhaps she did too–in knowing that God knew it all before hand. He wanted her to be where she was and when she was so she would know him. And he wants the same for me.

And he [God] made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us” (Acts 17:26-27).

Thanks be to God for loving me enough to put me in my circumstances and to draw me unto himself.

This is {kind of} episode 6 of my “They Were Called” series. If you want to follow along, I am posting on Mondays. For previous episodes, see:

Introduction: Working for My Calling

Episode 1: David Asked, “How Long, O Lord?”

Episode 2: Moses Looked to the Reward

Episode 3: Hannah Took It to the Lord

Episode 4: Noah Chose to Build

Episode 5: Jonah Liked His Way Better

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One thought on “Anna Proclaimed Christ

  1. Thanks for sharing about Anna!!! I totally agree that God takes us on journeys that are way different then we could have ever imagined!

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