A Pilgrimage Fueled by Hope: Anna Chooses the Life Road
By Sharon W. Betters
I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying His voice and holding fast to Him, for He is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them. -Deuteronomy 30:19-20 ESV
Anna’s name means grace, favor and beautiful. In Luke’s brief description of this elderly widow, we recognize a woman who reflects all of the characteristics of her name. Her husband’s death takes her to a crossroads in her pilgrimage. God sets before her a choice. One road leads to death, the other to life. Tears and grief cover both roads. Both roads promise excruciating pain and hard places. Bitterness, anger, and disappointment pave the Death Road. Purpose, joy, and life-giving opportunities pushed through the grid of grief, pave the Life Road. Anna chooses life. Today’s Treasure exclaims when Anna chose life, she chose to love the Lord her God, to obey His voice, to hold fast to Him. She recognized He was her life and every day held opportunities for her to be a blessing to others. This choice opens up unexpected opportunities to be a life-giver to anyone who crossed her path.
Widowhood was Anna’s platform for glorifying her God. I suspect Anna’s journey into a life of prayer, fasting, and service started slowly as she processed the death of her husband and how to live as a single woman. We meet her after decades of choosing life and watch as she immediately recognizes Mary’s baby as the long-awaited Messiah.
Her impact as a life-giver on the family of God cannot be minimized. The Temple was the center of activity for the Jewish people. Anna was a fixture in the Temple. Most likely everyone knew Anna and expected her to be present in their times of joy and sorrow. I imagine Anna coming alongside women just when they needed encouragement to go the extra mile in loving their husbands or to give that extra dose of patience while parenting a strong-willed child. It’s likely Anna did not hold back if a young mother needed an extra pair of hands to settle an unruly child or comfort a tired baby. Instead of expecting others to serve her because of her losses, Anna offered her life as a sacrifice of praise in the mundane moments.
A woman like Anna in a congregation is every pastor’s dream. In tomorrow’s devotion, we will see Anna’s habit of prayer and fasting helped equip her to come alongside Simeon, fulfilling her design as a helper in the church.
But for today, consider how we are on the other side of what Anna longed for. Jesus, the Messiah, lives in each of those who love Him. Anna’s story is not about Anna, but rather about how her Omnipotent God kept the promise of His covenant, He would never leave her, He would always hold her tightly in His grip.
Today, we have the inexplicable joy of intimacy with the only Son of that very God. We face the same choices as Anna. Her God, the Father of our Savior, invites us to taste and see that He is good. We can experience what Anna longed for, the very intimate presence of Jesus in our everyday moments. We have the privilege of displaying to those who cross our paths, the life-giving help and hope that comes from knowing Jesus.
We don’t see rules and obligations in Anna’s life. Rather, we see a woman who embraced the broken places in her life as an opportunity to offer life to others. I want to be just like Anna when I grow up! How about you?
Lord, thank you for giving us a glimpse into the life of a woman who embraces the darkness of widowhood as her platform for being a life-giver. May we see the grace and beauty of a woman empowered by her relationship to You, a woman we know would deflect all praise to You.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sharon W. Betters is author of Treasures of Encouragement, Treasures in Darkness and co-author of Treasures of Faith. She is Director of Resource Development and co-founder of MARKINC.org, a nonprofit organization that offers help and hope to hurting people. Sharon enjoys quality time with her husband, children, and fourteen grandchildren.
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