Thursday Dec. 19
Scripture: Luke 2:33-40
When Simeon encounters the infant Jesus in the temple, he begins to prophecy that the way people accept or reject Jesus will reveal their inner thoughts (Luke 2:35). Soon afterward, Anna, a prophet who spent her days worshipping at the temple, beholds Jesus for the first time and begins praising God and speaking to the people of the great things God will do through Jesus.
As Anna offers her own prophecy, she becomes the first person to fulfill Simeon’s prophecy. Through Anna’s response to Christ, her own inner thoughts are revealed.
Anna was married for seven years, presumably as a young lady, before being widowed. At the time she saw Jesus, Anna was 84 years old which means she had probably lived more than 50 years as a widow. She never remarried. Never had another husband to provide for her in a male dominated society.
We are not sure why Anna didn’t remarry. We do know life was not easy for widows in ancient Israel. They often had to rely on charity and the occasional odd job just to get by. From the outside looking in, Anna had every right to harbor resentful inner thoughts about the circumstances of her life. Yet, instead she spent her days praising God and looking for “the redemption of Israel (Luke 2:38)”.
You’ve probably run across people like Anna in your life. People who suffer great losses and still find great hope and joy through their faith. Anna’s hope and joy came from focusing her inner thoughts on God’s goodness rather than life’s circumstances.
In the Bible, the word “redeem” often refers to the price of purchasing a slave’s freedom. For Anna, God’s goodness paid the price to set her free from a life dominated by external forces beyond her control and allowed her to find hope and joy even in painful circumstances.
Where are your inner thoughts focused? Do you spend more time focusing on Jesus’ promises to never leave or forsake you, to forgive you, and to empower you for ministry? Or do you spend your time bemoaning everything in life which isn’t the way you want it to be?
If Simeon and Anna show us anything, it’s that the thoughts in our heads often determine whether we recognize the Lord in our midst.
Prayer: Lord of all, forgive my self-centered inner thoughts. Give me a spirit like Anna’s and focus my thoughts on you that I might know the hope and joy only your presence can provide. Amen.