Devotional, Luke, New Testament

Turning sorrow into strength (Luke 2:36-38)

36 And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, 37 and then as a widow until she was eighty-four.  She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. 38 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: 36 -38 ESV

While Simeon was giving praise to God for the blessing of seeing Christ, Anna, a prophetess and an old widow, entered the scene to add her thanksgiving to God.  Anna lost her husband just seven years after they were married.   It’s hard to imagine what she had to go through coping with the loss and pain she had.  But what we see through Luke’s description is a godly woman who knew pain and loss but not become bitter.   Instead of living in her own bitterness, she chose to live in the temple of God.  Instead of holding on to her pain and sorrow, she chose to hold on to God through her countless prayers.   “She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day.”  She was one busy prayer warrior! 

For as long as 84 years, she devoted herself to God and His work. She lost her husband, but she did not lose her hope. Her hope is in God. And like Simeon, she was also waiting for the coming of the Messiah.  Instead of being self-pity and making her pain and sorrow the center of her prayers, she turned her pain into her ministry.  “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” (2 Cor.1:3-4)  God is good! He is the father of fatherless and defender of widows.  God was with Anna. He took care of her, and He spoke to her.  She was a prophetess. She lived in the period of silence, yet God spoke to her.  With God’s comfort and His words, she could also comfort those in trouble with the comfort she received from God.  When she had the privilege to meet Christ in person,  like the shepherds who first found baby Jesus, Anna also couldn’t contain her joy! She gave thanks to God, and she continued her ministry by telling of the child she met to others in Jerusalem who were waiting for redemption. 

Our God is good and gracious! Life can be hard for us. We all carry some wounds and scars somewhere along our journey in life. This year, we experienced a global pandemic. Many have experienced separations and losses. God knows all of our sufferings, and He draws near to the brokenhearted. He would bandage our wounds and heal our pain. His words are our comforts, and His love is carrying us through the tough times, just as He did for Anna. Anna chose to walk with God and serve Him with the desire for His kingdom and righteousness. She lost the life of her dreams, but not the ability to dream. God rewarded her with a dream that came true. Today we also share a dream that will be fulfilled by Christ and through Christ. One day, that dream will also come true with a big shout and trumpet sound in the cloud announcing the return of our Lord. On that day, our scars will turn into our traces of love for the One who also kept the scars of the nails for us. Let us keep watching and praying until that day comes.

Dear Lord, you are our comforter and our healer. As we look back to the year, there were a lot of tough times and challenges, but thank you for never letting go of me. You are with me and you’re carrying me through. Thank you for being there! Help me hold on to you and your promises and be watchful for your return. One day, you will come, and all will be revealed, including the wounds and scars I bear for you – which is nothing comparing to the ones you bore for me. But I know you treasure them.

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