Give, Give, Give
But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.
2 Corinthians 4:7-10 ESV
A few years ago I read an article that business people were building storage rental units in preparation for all the stuff that baby boomers had collected. These business people watched as baby boomers downsized but were unwilling to let go of a lot of their stuff, because no one saw the value of once priceless antiques and collections. Baby boomers rented space with hopes that their children would one day gratefully find a place for family heirlooms.
Instead, many children of baby boomers made it clear they don’t want their parent’s beloved belongings. Maybe this is God’s way of reminding us that we have something far more precious to offer than stuff. Anna got that. She gave and gave and gave, and her giving energized her to give some more. Luke paints a picture of a woman we might call a workaholic. Night and day, she worshiped and that means she offered her life as a living sacrifice, serving wherever needed.
Anna was a woman in process. She learned to hold life loosely in her hands and heart, completely giving over her dreams to the heart of God. God used her response to the death of her husband to prepare her to encourage young Mary, the mother of her Messiah. God opened Anna’s eyes so that she saw the Promised One. What greater treasure could God give to her than coming face to face with her Messiah and encouraging His mother, Mary?
God made the clouds His chariots and when Anna saw Him in the storm clouds, she knew that out of her dead dreams, God planned to resurrect a new life. Instead of resigning herself to a purposeless, colorless existence, Anna chose to surrender to the pathway marked out by God for her. We see treasures in Anna’s broken life, and we know the power she experienced to worship, pray, fast and serve well into her old age had come from her God, our God. Anna found joy and purpose that resurrected her broken heart into a giving heart. Our God can do the same for each of us. In fact, we, too, can experience the supernatural power of daily resurrection as we learn to die to self and rely on Him.
Anna shows us what it means to give, give, give. Everything she owned, she gave to others.
Anna’s response to shattered dreams encourages us to make serving and giving a normal part of our DNA, so that when life crashes down or our energy diminishes with age, we automatically find new ways to serve that fit our “waiting room” season.
Compare Anna’s heart of service to the bitter old woman whose disappointment and anger toward God shows up in her face, words and lack of love for others. Family members dread spending time with her and her acid tongue repels all attempts of friends to serve her. She sees no value in her life and blames others for her unhappiness.
If you are that woman, ask the Lord to teach you through Anna’s model. Resist the temptation to come up with a list of all the reasons Anna could serve as she did (she had her health, she attends a great church, etc.) and repent of bitterness. Ask the Lord to stir up in your heart a hunger to serve Him with what you have. Ask Him to show you how you can offer life-giving encouragement from your waiting room. Serving and giving stirs up joy and pleasure when we see the Lord meeting needs through our actions. Such serving pulls us outside of our own dark place and eternal treasures flow from us into the lives of needy people.
STORE UP MORE TREASURES
At some point in our lives, we or someone we know will go through great suffering. I encourage you to go the MARKINC website and listen to the interview "When Food Is The Enemy: Surviving A Life Threatening Eating Disorder" so that you can store up treasures of encouragement for the next rainy day in your life or someone else's. Here is a summary and teaser of this resource:
What gets inside the head of a young girl who almost starves herself to death because when she looks into a mirror she sees a fat, ugly, lonely girl? In this special interview, Rose takes us inside the heart of a girl who who has struggled with weight issues her whole life. Rose does not sugar coat her battle and admits that even now, she must practice strong disciplines in order to fight old habits.