Wait. Don’t we all love that word? It’s a word that God has spoken into my life numerous times – and still is speaking. Once upon a time, it really bothered me. I wanted a yes or a no, clear direction. But I have learned it is in the wait that I grow. I learn more about who God is and how to completely rely on him.
One particular story of waiting continues to give me hope and perspective. Have you read the story of Anna? A short three verses in Luke tell her story, but what a story they tell! To set the stage for Anna’s story, Joseph and Mary have taken Jesus, at eight days old, to the temple as was the custom of the day, to be dedicated, named, and circumcised. They have two powerful encounters at the temple – the first with Simeon, the second with Anna.
There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eight-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them [Joseph, Mary, and Jesus] at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.
Anna waited on God. Literally. She spent her days in his temple, worshiping him, waiting for him to appear. He was all she had, and he had been silent for 400 years. Her husband was gone. Imagine what her life looked like. As a girl, she must have longed and prepared for marriage. That’s what girls did then. (Funny, that’s what girls do now. Not much has really changed in 2,000 years, has it?) She had seven years with her husband. Then he’s gone. It’s her and God. Let’s use a little creative license and say she got married at 15. She was widowed at 22. She spent 62 years in the temple, waiting on God. 62 years. Waiting, hoping, longing, trusting, believing. Can you imagine? We get impatient after 62 minutes, much less 62 years.
Anna’s wait was not passive and was not in vain. Anna spent her days worshiping and praying. She spent her time in the temple, hoping for God, who was silent, to speak. And oh, how God spoke! When she awoke that morning, did she know it would be a different day? Did she know in the moment sweet baby Jesus arrived, when the person of God was literally carried into the temple? All she had waited for, she now held in her arms, telling the people “This is the One we have waited for!”
Waiting is not meant to be passive. We are meant to be active in our wait – hoping, longing, learning, worshiping, praying, pressing into Jesus. Just as Anna, we do not wait in vain. She saw him come as a precious baby. We will all see him come as a Mighty King. He is worth the wait. Oh, he is worth the wait!