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  • Writer's pictureOlivia Dear Thames

Advent: December 22

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

Anna is another biblical character that you may not have heard of (I sure hadn't). These three verses tell us a lot about this woman.

An elderly widow, Anna knew pain. Her husband died many years before, so she had been lonely for a long time. She knew what it felt like to lose someone so close and to be burdened with grief. I can't even begin to imagine the deep sorrow Anna experienced—to lose the person you share a name and a life with.

Not only was Anna grieving; she was waiting. Anna was longing for the hope of a Messiah with no end in sight.

Despite her pain and her sorrow and her waiting, Anna was clearly a regular at the temple—fasting and praying nonstop. Amidst the sadness she knew so well, Anna clung to the mysterious promises of God.

And at the same time the radiant newborn King is being presented in the temple, this grieving widow is there, too. It's a paradox if you think about it: a new life and a life that has experienced years of heartache. A fresh soul and a weary soul. The fulfillment of Israel and one who was desperate for its redemption.

As she sees little Jesus, Anna starts praising God and spreading the good news that Christ has come. She feels the fulfillment of Christ despite years and years of Israel's waiting. In the presence of Jesus, Anna experiences joy that only a Savior could bring.

Ann Voskamp said, "Struggling and rejoicing are not two chronological steps, one following the other, but two concurrent movements, one fluid with the other. As the cold can move you deeper toward the fire, struggling can move you deeper toward God, who warms you with joy. Struggling can deepen joy."

Your circumstances may not have changed this Advent. You may be knee-deep in pain and wading through sadness. You may feel so much weight on your shoulders that it feels like any season other than Christmas.

But hope has come.

Hope came in the form of a baby born in a stable, and hope is coming again. Hope came in the form of a virgin birth, and hope is coming again. Hope came for Anna, and hope is coming for all of us who believe in Jesus Christ.

Hope came that first Advent, and hope is coming again for the second Advent. No matter what you are experiencing today, there is joy to be found in the coming of Christ. There is hope to cling to. And for weary souls everywhere, this is some really good news.

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