31 Days of Women from Scripture
Lessons from Anna
Sometimes big lessons can come from short stories. “Jesus wept” is the shortest verse in the Bible – yet what it tells us a great deal about the man He was and the God He is. When we learned about Deborah we also talked about Jael, it only took six verses to tell us about her. We may not learn everything about a person in those few words. We will learn what God wanted us to learn. He is the best author. He knows how to put the words so that we gain the most from the information given.
Anna – what we know of her is told in three verses: Luke 2:36-38.
And there was a prophetess, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years and had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple, serving night and day with fastings and prayers. At that very moment she came up and began giving thanks to God, and continued to speak of Him to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.Luke 2:36-38
Anna is a prophetess.
Anna is 84 years old.
Anna was married for seven years, then her husband died.
Anna has remained a widow ever since.
Anna stays at the Temple.
She is devoted to fastings and prayers.
After seeing the Christ child she began giving thanks to God.
Anna would tell all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem about the Christ being born.
That’s a pretty impressive life!
Anna shows us that a woman does not need to be married to be of use. She does not need to be married to serve the Lord. In fact, Paul says in 1 Corinthians 7:32-34 that when it comes to dealing with persecution, being single can be beneficial. When you are single you can put all of your focus upon the things of the Lord, like Anna did. But when you are married, you are going to be concerned about worldly things – like how to please a wife or husband. We will not be given in marriage in heaven (Mk. 12:18-27) when we are in the presence of God, so marriage is not a spiritual thing. It is for this world only. So if you want to be the best Christian woman you can be, maybe choosing to remain single is the best way to do that. If sexual temptation is not a very real struggle for you (1 Cor. 7:8-9), then the single life is a way in which you can serve your Lord with focus and intensity that those who are married just cannot.
Anna shows young widows how to “give the enemy no occasion for reproach” (1 Tim. 5:14). Having too much time on your hands is a bad thing. Paul warned Timothy about young widows who learn to be idle and fall into gossip and being busybodies because they are not focused on their work (1 Tim. 5:11-13). This is something every young woman should avoid falling into. It can be a good thing to have friends to meet with for coffee now and then. Play dates are fun. But when they keep you from taking care of the home, your husband, and your children – they become an opportunity for Satan to get his foot in your door.
Anna shows that your age is not an excuse. I do not know at what age she married. But the Bible makes it clear that her service from the time of her widowhood to her current age was a lengthy time. She never missed a day (Lk. 2:37). She did not say, “I am too young and I have too much to do to serve every day” nor did she say after so many years of service “I am too old now, I am going to leave the work to the younger and more energetic”. Anna brought her own abilities to each day of fasting and praying.
Be focused on your work. Anna was constant in her fastings and prayers. That was her life. But as we have seen with many other women already, that does not have to be what your life looks like. Be responsible. Do not be lazy. When your work is done and you have too many empty hours – find someone to something for. Nursing homes and pediatric floors could use blankets and volunteers. An elderly neighbor could use help getting to and from the grocery store. If your life is full of husband and children – FOCUS on your husband and your children. Show self-control by not always only looking for what you want but instead caring for the needs of others (Phil. 2:3-5). Romans 12:3 says that we should not think more “highly of ourselves than we ought to think”, that means that there is a level to which we are to think of ourselves. Men ought to love their wives as their own bodies. Therefore men ought to have a level of love for themselves that is then reflected in the care they give to their wives. Womanhood is not intended to be martyrdom.
Like Anna, we need to be watching and waiting (1 Cor. 16:13; Col. 4:2; 1 Thess. 5:6). We need to be armed and ready (Eph. 6:10-17). So that whether He comes in this life or after our death (1 Thess. 4:13-18) we are found being diligent in peace, without spot and blameless (2 Pet. 5:14-18).
Anna shows that she was looking FORWARD. She was talking to people to find who was looking for the redemption of Jerusalem. When she comes up and hears Simeon declaring who this baby was (Lk. 2:25-35), she immediately begins giving thanks to the Lord. Anna knew the prophecies. She herself was a prophetess. We do not know what her message was before, but we know what it was going forward – a child is born who brings salvation as the light of revelation to the Gentiles and the glory of Israel (Lk. 2:29-32). We need to be looking FORWARD. Those who were faithful under the Old Law were seeking a better country (Heb. 11:16). They did not receive it in their lifetimes, but they were looking beyond this life. We have something better. The hope they were looking for has been given to us! We have the wind in our sails via the hope in Christ’s resurrection (Heb. 12:1-2; Heb. 9:23-28; Ac. 24:15; Rom. 5:1-11; Rom. 6:1-7). Like the prepared virgins in the parable (Mt. 25:1-13), Anna was watching and ready for that moment when she knew the Lord was here.
Young people need FOCUS to keep their lives on track, generally speaking. Older people do as well: but the implication is that if you have done these things when you are young, then they are more likely to be an ingrained HABIT and part of LIFE when you are older. Anna is an example of a VERY DEDICATED woman. Strive to be this DEDICATED in whatever manner you SERVE the Lord and others.