Aging With Grace: Week Two
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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?
6/14/2022 09:08:50 am
Even though I have read and heard this passage multiple times, I had also missed the connection that Anna's coming was right on the heels of Simeon's telling Mary about a sword that would pierce her heart. How kind of God to send a comforter and reassurer just at that point. That so inspires me to be aware and available to speak a word of comfort and reassurance and hope to others in odd moments. Those little unexpected moments are often pivotal.
6/14/2022 10:39:15 am
I love that thought, Barbara, of Anna being a widow with no support or help, BUT GOD... And she rested in that!! :) What a testimony! So much to learn from her story!
6/14/2022 09:11:24 am
Anna is a great example! And I enjoy looking at tombstones and seeing what was said about others. Especially my ancestors.
6/14/2022 11:00:09 am
I love that Sharon Betters and Susan Hunt included Anna in their book! I was not as familiar with her life story as I should have been before reading this.
As mothers, we always want someone to see goodness in our children - and after such a hard prophecy for a new mother - what balm that Anna brought to help sustain her when the world wouldn't believe in Him. Anna's story has always been one of my very favorites!
6/14/2022 11:03:25 am
I agree, Maryleigh, mothers love to hear good about their children, no matter how old their child is—even when they are adults. I'm so thankful for Anna's story and what we can learn from it!
6/14/2022 10:39:18 am
Definitely a marathon, and we run, "fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith."
6/14/2022 11:06:33 am
Love that verse, Michele! "Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God." Hebrews 12:2
6/14/2022 12:28:04 pm
I love the story of Anna, too. And this is the second time this week the Lord has brought this scripture to my attention: "Those that be planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing." Psalm 92:13-14
6/14/2022 12:34:12 pm
Such a comforting promise!
6/15/2022 03:47:52 pm
I love the story of Anna too. I like wandering around in cemeteries too, I enjoy reading the names and dates on the stones and can't help but wonder what was going on during that persons time period or what their life was like at that time.
6/20/2022 08:01:47 am
As I go through cemeteries I can’t help but think of how fleeting our lives are. We will most likely never be remembered a few generations from now. The only legacy I can leave is what I invest in the generations under me. We can make a difference by aging gracefully, God helping us.
6/15/2022 04:57:21 pm
This sounds like a good study; unfortunately, I am already overcommitted at the moment. Maybe next time. 😕
6/20/2022 07:57:06 am
These are busy times and part of aging gracefully is knowing what God’s will is for you in each season of life, putting your all into it, and saying no to the rest. Totally understand. God bless you in your season, Barb!
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