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Whatever season of life you’re in, God has equipped you to flourish—to live in the transforming power and beauty of His grace. As we age, we can easily lose sight of this message as cultural ideals glorifying youth take center stage.
In the book, Aging With Grace, Sharon W. Betters and Susan Hunt offer present-day and biblical examples of women who rediscovered Gospel-rooted joy in their lives. Equipped with a biblical view of aging, Aging with Grace will help you encounter afresh the Gospel that “is big enough, good enough, and powerful enough to make every season of life significant and glorious.”
Aging With Grace: Anna—A Holy Woman Who Hoped in God
Recently my sister and I went to Oconee Cemetery in Athens, Georgia to find the graves of our ancestors. As we made our way through a maze of tombstones with various remembrances, I couldn’t help but wonder how I would be remembered. Most likely it would be based on how I finish. And how I finish will have a lot to do with my life choices.
Anna is a woman who made the right life choices and aged gracefully. Luke gives us her brief biography.
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, 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. 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
We know very little about the life of Anna, but at some point after she lost her husband, she decided to be planted in the house of the Lord, as Psalm 92:13-14 says,
Anna chose not only to be present in God’s house, but to serve Him by fasting and praying. These life choices resulted in Anna being one of the few names mentioned in the narrative of Jesus’ birth.
In fact, there are only four other characters besides Mary, Joseph, and Jesus in that narrative: Zacharias, Elizabeth, Simeon, and Anna. All four of these were older, seasoned saints. That says something about God’s view of the elderly. As we grow older, we need never fear that God will put us on a shelf because of our age. I am amazed at what new opportunities to serve and influence others that God has brought into my life after turning 55.
As we look at the life of Anna, let’s see what God had planned for her in her older years.
Reading about Anna in the past, I have rejoiced that she was able to see the promised Messiah before she died. But I did not notice that God had a special plan for her in relation to Jesus’ mother, Mary.
The two verses, Luke 2:34-35, that precede Anna’s brief biography show us what occurred right before Anna saw Jesus in the temple.
And Simeon (the priest) blessed them and said to Mary his mother,
“Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed." Luke 2:34-35
The moment Simeon made that troubling statement to Mary, Anna walked up. Providential! Here was an opportunity for an older woman to speak life into a younger woman. Mary, no doubt, was overwhelmed by Simeon’s statement. That phrase, “A sword will pierce through your own soul,” must have played over and over in her mind. But Anna brought a ray of hope.
Despite Anna’s losses in life, we don’t see fear. We don’t see her disappointment in others who may not have met her expectations. We don’t see bitterness with God, who in His sovereignty had allowed these things in her life.
No matter how small or large, whatever may happen in life, God has allowed it for a reason. From getting stuck in traffic or having a flat tire, to getting a cancer diagnosis or hearing news of a loved one’s death. All things work together for good for those who love God and who have been called to be used for His purposes in life. (Romans 8:28)
It’s all about Him.
We can choose to place our feet on the stepping stones of fear, bitterness, disappointment, and anger; but that is a pathway that will lead away from God.
"For the righteous will never be moved; he will be remembered forever. He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord. His heart is steady; he will not be afraid." Ps 112:6-8a
Anna chose to put her feet down on the stepping stones of truth and gratitude, on worship and praise, and that led her straight to this spot where the Lord Jesus as a baby was being presented to God. It led her to Mary who needed to see that her baby boy was there to give Hope.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. Romans 15:13
One day, our hope will become a reality. Like Anna, we will see Jesus. In the meantime, will we wait with frustration, or will we believe God’s promises? How are you aging with grace today, friend?
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