by Laura Loffredo
Anna lived at the Temple according to Scripture. She was eighty-four years of age and had been a widow for many years. Having been married only 7 years it is very likely she had no children to support her. She was a godly woman whose life was a total dedication to God with faithful fasting and prayer. My own experience with godly women who fast and pray daily is that they also spend their time in devotion to God by serving others with great pleasure and at personal sacrifice. The work of prayer is definitely not the activity of a lazy person. The Temple at Jerusalem welcomed travelers from other lands by feeding and housing them for a short time. She welcomed strangers, befriended the lonely, and prayed for them. In my mind, Anna attended to all the Hannahs who entered therein seeking the direction of God Himself.
She was a sister in the Lord to Simeon who was also old and weakened in his later years, whose heart had been cheered by God when he learned that he would not die till he had seen the Lord’s Christ! What a tremendous piece of information Simeon had been given! Undoubtedly he shared this extraordinary news with Anna. “Help me keep an eagle eye out for new parents with their little baby boys.”
Can’t you just see these two old people shuffling over to see every new baby that’s brought in? They must have tugged at little hands and cooed over every little brown haired bundle of joy. Surely they must have been wondering each time whether this is the one. It was like a game they played, silently, prayerfully, looking on thoughtfully.
It could have been two years of waiting to finally find the one they were looking for.
They were not so sure how they might recognize the real One. “Don’t babies look pretty much alike with tiny little ears and noses; some with curly hair, others with none at all? They all have small dimpled hands and knees, mostly brown eyes with strange and sweet formations of their lips and mouths. How does one know which child is the one Isaiah spoke of? ‘Unto us a child is born.’ Messiah will be splendorous in every way, but what can we learn from a tiny baby?”
Entering, young parents brought their first-born to be dedicated. The two elderly ones observed their demeanor. “Pigeons are a humble offering,” they whispered, “but their faces are kind with their babe wrapped in meager cloth.” Simeon nudged Anna, “I’m going to stand closer. I have a heavy sense of the Holy Spirit’s presence.” Anna could not help but follow, seeing Simeon holding out his arms to hold the baby. As he looked into the child’s face he began predicting extraordinary events in this child’s life. Anna, too, sensed the Spirit of God so she also prophesied. Perhaps hers was about his future ministry of preaching to the poor and brokenhearted; gaining freedom for the captives; and this child would comfort those who mourn. He would grow up to love justice and would make an everlasting covenant with his people!” Words Isaiah had written hundreds of years before and perhaps applied by Anna to this precious baby in arms, born in a lowly stable to a virgin mother and step-father; facts they knew nothing of, but had been the Father’s choice.
When Simeon spoke of “a sword piercing their hearts,” the couple’s faces fell. Worried looks appeared, interrupting the happy moments of dedication. Anna felt sorry about the news, but she had confidence in Simeon. He spoke only that which the Lord directed. She kept patting Joseph’s shoulder and Mary’s back as if to say, it’s alright, don’t worry, God is with you. He will care for you when the time comes, please trust Him. When the ceremony was ended, Anna and Simeon were all smiles. They could not keep silent! To everyone around them they exclaimed, “We have seen the Lord’s Christ! We have seen Him indeed! And everyone marveled, but thirty years later none remembered. Of all the great days in the Temple, that one day was the best of all, seeing God wrapped up into a small package and being carried to His own house for the very first time and hearing two of His own servants predict his glorious reasons for being incarnated into human flesh. The two paid high honor to God by living for Him every single day and speaking His worthiness as the Scriptures testify. Anna and Simeon were faithful saints.