A Word To Women
Three verses of Scripture summarise all we know about Anna. Although we are given so little, the little reveals much. The name Anna, like Hannah, means grace. Anna knew the grace of God in her life and she was also a gracious woman. Anna had been married for only seven years when her husband died. It would seem that from the time of her bereavement she gave herself to God’s service in the temple. Widowed for eighty-four years, Anna was probably over one hundred years old. She was an example of the widow described in 1 Timothy 5:5, “Now she that is a widow indeed, and desolate, trusteth in God and continueth in supplications and prayers night and day.”
Anna is one of the few prophetesses in Scripture. There had been a prophetic silence for several hundred years but now as the Messiah came, the Spirit of the Lord was once more poured out upon individuals such as Anna. Like Simeon, Anna was waiting for the appearing of the “Lord’s Christ” (Luke 2:26). Anna’s mind was saturated with the Old Testament prophecies e.g. “Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14). Drawn into the temple she gazed on the Babe in Mary’s arms and heard the words of Simeon as he rejoiced in the fulfilment of God’s promise. Anna knew that the waiting was over and the Lord had sent His Son to redeem sinners.
Anna spent much of her days in prayer, often fasting as she prayed. Her life was one of self-control. She was always present in the temple for services, serving in the spirit and not the letter (Romans 2:29). We are not to suppose that this had been an easy life for Anna to adopt. We can only surmise what struggles she went through when widowed as a young woman before discovering her calling. We cannot expect to walk in close fellowship with the Lord if we are not prepared to spend time in prayer and study of His word. This goes against the flesh and so often we find, “The good I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.” (Romans 7:19) It is only through the help of the Lord Jesus that we can conquer sin and grow in grace.
Anna was not a ‘Pharisee’ type person, craving the praise of others but rather she went quietly about her devotions. She was not a dull and dreary person, serving out of a sense of duty. The Pharisees had their reward when people admired and praised them – it was short-lived. Anna had her reward when she saw her Saviour and her words of thanksgiving flowed from a heart bursting with joy. That reward continues for she went at death to be forever with her Lord, in whose presence there is fullness of joy, and at whose hand there are pleasures for evermore (Psalm 16:11). Anna was not content to keep the advent of the Saviour to herself. No true follower of Christ should want to keep the gospel to themselves. The humble shepherds having seen the Saviour told the good news to all and sundry. Anna likewise, “spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.” (Luke 2:38)
There are many Anna-like women in the church, older ladies, sometimes widowed, often unnoticed, but present at every meeting and supportive of God’s work in prayer and in sharing their faith by lip and life. Let us both honour and imitate them.