Michelle Scott is the lead pastor at Vineyard Church Dungannon, Northern Ireland.
‘There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, 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 eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshipped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them 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.’ (Luke 2:36–38)
As for many other places, 2021 has been a year of waiting in Northern Ireland. So many are waiting for life to return to some sort of normality. People are waiting for long-overdue consultations and medical procedures. Young people are waiting for their lives to move forward instead of being stuck in what feels like a no man’s land. They are still waiting to get the job they studied for, or waiting to meet new friends and form lifelong relationships that are difficult to cultivate in a socially distanced world. Families are waiting to be reunited – some still waiting on the other side of the world.
Anna had been waiting a very long time to meet God face to face; it’s possible she was waiting 60 years. Nevertheless, she devoted herself to God in the temple, praying and fasting. Interestingly, her name means ‘grace’ or ‘favour’. She is the daughter of Phan’u-el, which means ‘face of God’. It’s easy for us to conclude that Anna was a woman of favour because, eventually, after all that time, she did see the face of Jesus! But, in the years of waiting, did she even know what she was waiting for? Or did she faithfully seek God regardless?
Devotion and intimacy with Jesus bring their reward (Matt 6:6). It is Jesus himself that we seek, who we wait on, not what he can give us. He is our very great reward (Gen 15:1), just as he was Anna’s.