Anna the Missionary
by Sharon Betters
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.
Luke 2:38 ESV
For over eight decades Anna persevered in her pursuit of intimacy with her God and sacrificial service that displayed her complete reliance on God’s love and character. On this particular day, as was her habit, Anna was in the Temple, praying, fasting, and serving. It’s likely that when the priests led the public prayer, Anna prayed quietly, with full assurance that God heard her. As was the custom of Jewish people, Anna pleaded with God to send the Messiah. Every year, for at least eighty-four years, Anna prayed, trusting that God would one day keep His promise to send the Redeemer. How many times did she encourage others to persevere in the face of difficult days? Was she ever tempted to doubt that the Lord would indeed keep His promise?
It’s probable that Simeon and Anna talked about their passion for praying for the coming Messiah. Perhaps Anna knew that God had revealed to Simeon that he would not die until he saw the Messiah with his own eyes. What captured Anna’s attention that drew her to Mary and Joseph as they presented baby Jesus to Simeon? Did she hear Simeon’s joyful shouts that this was indeed the Messiah?
We can only speculate because Luke does not include such interesting details. It is enough to know that God led Anna to come up to Mary and Joseph at just that moment and declare with joy that their child was indeed the Messiah. Some refer to Anna as the first missionary, because she doesn’t stop with worshiping in the safety of the Temple. She joyfully shares the news that the Messiah has come with all those, who like her, are longing for His arrival.
I understand a little of their longing and subsequent joy in knowing God kept His promise. After the death of our son, I longed for Jesus to come back. Every morning I woke with the thought, “We’re one day closer”. I imagine the people in Anna’s circle likewise longed for the Redeemer because life had broken their hearts. They longed for peace and comfort and knew only God could fill that need.
In my grief, I too longed for such peace and supernatural comfort. Only Jesus can meet that need. Though He has not physically returned, Jesus keeps the promise of His presence every day in my life. He holds me tightly in His grip. I cannot keep such comfort to myself when I know of a broken hearted friend. I have tasted of the Lord and I want others to come to His table and experience His goodness. Oh friend, if you long for a love that will not let you go, I invite you to His table. I invite you to taste and see that the Lord is good.
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 "Lost Hope: A Look At Teenage Depression And Suicide" 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:
The third leading cause of death in 15 to 24 year-olds, is suicide and depression. This interview is an honest conversation with two professionals who have helped teens and families through these struggles. Parents and teens alike will benefit from strategies to help teens find hope in the darkness of depression.