Choose to Spread Hope and Joy
She never left the temple but worshipped night and day, fasting and praying. Luke 2:37
Life didn’t work out as Anna hoped. Like most other Jewish women, she probably dreamed of marriage to a devout Jewish man, followed by the birth of several sons. But after seven years of marriage, she became a widow, and the Bible doesn’t indicate that she and her husband were blessed with children (Luke 2:36–37).
If no male relative stepped up to help her, Anna was left to fend for herself. She could have easily spiraled into despair and poverty. But the Bible says Anna didn’t choose that route. Instead, she moved from her home in the upper region of Palestine to Jerusalem and devoted herself to God’s service in the temple.
Luke described her as a prophetess—one who declared and interpreted God’s messages. At age eighty-four, she still went to the temple daily to fast, pray, and worship.
One day a young couple entered the temple with their infant son. God revealed to Anna the identity of the baby, and she rushed over to speak to the infant’s parents, Mary and Joseph. In doing so, she gave them another affirmation of God’s plan for Jesus.
Anna then spread the good news of the Messiah’s arrival. “She gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem” (Luke 2:38). God gave this faithful woman a precious gift—meeting the Messiah and encouraging his earthly parents.
When her husband died, Anna could have chosen many ways to navigate the sorrow and disappointment of widowhood. She could have grown angry and turned away from God. She could have trudged on in bitterness, complaining to everyone about how unfairly God had treated her. Instead, she turned her adversity into an opportunity to serve God. She chose gratitude and hope.
The Thanksgiving and Christmas season is difficult for many people. Loneliness and heartache can lead to despair and bitterness. But we can choose to handle difficulty as Anna did—an opportunity to serve God and focus on the blessings he has given us.
Can you invest more time in prayer and worship this holiday season? Is there someone who needs your encouragement and affirmation? Ask God to reveal ways that you can serve him and then watch, as Anna did, for a divine encounter with the Messiah.
Read Luke 2:22–38. In what ways do you think both Simeon’s and Anna’s encounters with Mary and Joseph encouraged the young couple? Whom has encouraged you recently?
Luke 2:38 says that Anna “spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Israel.” In what ways can you spread the true message of Christmas—the arrival of the Messiah, Jesus Christ—to others?
Read Psalm 27. How might the words of this psalm have encouraged Anna after the death of her spouse and during the many years that followed? How does David’s psalm encourage you?
Denise K. Loock
This devotion is part of our series Not-As-Famous Men and Women of the Bible.