Liz Curtis Higgs
"Lord, I Want to Be Like This Woman"
"She … worshiped night and day, fasting and praying."
Luke 2:37b (NIV)
Tucked within the gentle folds of the Christmas story is a woman whose life was a living testimony to faithfulness. We read about her in just three short verses found in Luke 2:36-38.
Her name, Anna, means "grace," her family name means "face of God," and her devotion to Him ran deep and wide.
Anna was married in her youth and then widowed after just seven years. Can you imagine her heartache in that time and place where motherhood was the end-all, be-all?
Even so, we have no record of Anna weeping. Only worshiping the Lord. Night and day. Year after year.
Who does this? Seriously, it’s a level of commitment most of us can’t get our heads around, especially during the holidays when we’re dashing through the snow to pageants, concerts, banquets, something.
Our wise sister Anna realized being in the Lord’s presence was celebration enough.
And while in His presence, she fasted. Not to lose weight or cleanse her body from toxins or to impress others with her piety, but to honor God. "When you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen" (Matthew 6:17-18a, NIV).
He surely saw Anna that day in the temple. She was 84 years old, but you’d never know it to watch her in action. When Mary and Joseph brought the infant Jesus to the temple for Mary’s ritual cleansing and the presentation of their firstborn son to the Lord, Anna didn’t miss a beat.
At the Holy Spirit’s prompting, she made a beeline for the Christ child, "coming up to them at that very moment" (Luke 2:38a, NIV). We sense her urgency, her excitement, her conviction.
After decades of worshiping and fasting and praying, Anna was prepared when she encountered the Savior. She was filled up, ready to spill out, and so "she gave thanks to God" (Luke 2:38b, NIV).
Amazing. Anna didn’t complain about the long wait, the lonely years, the emptiness of her stomach, the stiffness in her knees, the hardness of the temple floor. She simply gave thanks.
We’re listening, Lord. And watching. And learning.
Instead of remaining with Mary and Joseph, making idle chitchat, Anna then turned to everyone else in the temple courts that day, and "spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem" (Luke 2:38c, NIV).
Anna gazed beyond His birth, beyond His life, beyond His death and straight through to His resurrection. The people of God longed to be redeemed, but that was only possible through sacrifice. The stark reminder of that truth hung in the temple air — the spilling of blood, the bleating of lambs, the burning of flesh on the altar.
Did Anna know this innocent child would one day suffer to set his people free? You can be sure of it. Scripture tells us she was a prophetess, which meant she not only heard from the Lord, she also knew what the ancient prophets foretold.
Anna was prepared and so prepared the way. Now it falls to us, 2,000 years later, to follow in her footsteps. To tell everyone we know, everything we know about Jesus.
When we ease our breathless pace, when we stop, look and listen, we can sense the gentle weight of His touch and take comfort in the warmth of His presence.
In this season, in every season, let’s pause and remember Immanuel: God with us.
Heavenly Father, each aspect of Anna’s worship convicts me, in particular her sacrifice of physical comfort for spiritual intimacy. You
deserve more than the few crumbs that fall from my too-full calendar. You deserve my best. A heart of worship, night and day. A willingness to add fasting and more prayer time to my life. Please teach me to be still, to wait, to listen and always to give thanks. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Ezra 8:23, "So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer." (NIV)
Psalm 100:4, "Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name." (NIV)