Have you been disappointed by promised not kept ? Were you shocked by the senseless massacre of innocent children and their teachers in Newtown, Conn.? Are you frustrated by seeing religiosity instead genuine spirituality?
Does it seem that you have been slogging along for a very long time without much to show for your life? With the minimal results you’ve seen this year, what can you tell your supporters so they will to continue your support in 2013?
You are not alone. There are many other women throughout the world who wonder if they will ever see an answers to their most ardent prayers. We may not talk about it, but most of us live with a mixture of hope and questions.
At Christmas time we often hear of Anna, the prophetess in the Temple when Jesus was dedicated. This woman was the original “waitress.” Waiting defined her life. She was probably very young when she married. Her husband died just seven years later.
She was 84 when Jesus was dedicated. What did she do for all the years of her widowhood? She prayed, she fasted, she worshiped in the Temple day and night. That’s a lot of praying, fasting and worship!
Do you think she even knew what she was praying for? Could she even guess what God had planned, not only for Israel but for the whole world? Was she looking for a newborn baby? Did she have any idea that he would heal and deliver and save anyone in the world who would seek him? I doubt it.
Yes, she was a super pray-er. She was known in the Temple and she knew those who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem. But she was also human. Surely there were seasons when she battled with the doubt that God would redeem his people. There must have been those frustrating times when everything just seemed to get worse and worse. She surely had moments when she was exhausted and longed for rest from her burden.
But then one glorious day, a mother and father brought their tiny baby boy to be dedicated. Simeon was the first to recognize this baby was God’s salvation for everyone. Then Anna came up and started pouring out thanks to God and telling everyone that was looking for the redemption of Jerusalem about the baby Jesus. For Anna, it was worth the wait!
What faith. What anointing. What joy.
But for the world there was more waiting. Though Anna was satisfied that God had answered her prayers, the world waited another 30 years for Jesus to grow and mature and prepare for his ministry. Three short years with his disciples and the people in his small country. Then in a matter of hours it came to an end, or so it seemed. Little did the world know that the resurrection, ascension, and the establishment of the Body of Christ in the world would soon follow.
Yet we still wait for the answers to our prayers. We pray for personal needs, for salvation of those we hold dear, for progress in our work, for God’s intervention in our world. We have seasons of doubt and frustration and exhaustion. But like Anna, we need to wait in expectation.
We need to know it will be worth the wait! And that is Anna’s lesson to all of us- all her daughters in faith who wait while we work.
I don’t know what your Christmas will be like this year, but it will probably be a mixture of feelings, memories, and expectation. Christmas usually is those things. My prayer for all of us is that every feeling, every memory, and every expectation will lead us straight to the One who loves us and came into our world to make us his very own people.
Blessed Christmas, my sisters!