Monday, December 01, 2008

Anna's story

As we prepare our hearts for the celebration of the birthday of our Lord, with all the focus on a pregnant young woman and a tiny newborn Baby, may our Risen Lord comfort each hurting heart and allow us true joy in the wonder of God-become-man for our redemption. Christmas, while yes about a Baby, is also about a Father's first step toward heartbreak at the death of His only Son, all because He understands the longing to grow His family - the death of His Son was the cost of my adoption as His daughter.

The following is copyrighted material and has been adapted from "Pray, Faith, and Compassion," chapter eleven of Hannah's Hope: Seeking God's Heart in the Midst of Infertility, Miscarriage, & Adoption Loss by Jennifer Saake, NavPress, 2005. Please do not duplicate without permission.

The rumors circulated about how Anna had been barren for the seven years her husband lived (see Luke 2:22-38). Others speculated about children that she might have buried along-side her beloved groom. Whatever her true story, they all shook their heads at the shame of her lonely state, without any living male relative to care for her in her advancing years.

Anna commented little on the gossip of the crowd, striving to live gracefully, not giving in to the anger and bitterness that could so easily have ruled her heart. Yes, a lifetime later, she still missed the man who was to have been her life-partner, provider, and protector. While her womb had dried up long ago, some days her arms still longed to be filled by the weight of an infant.

Like Hannah had nearly 1,000 years earlier, Anna took her heartache to the temple. As the years passed by, Anna devoted more and more of her time to prayer and fasting. The life she had envisioned for herself was replaced with a lifestyle of ongoing worship. Those who had once pitied Anna, now sought out the prophetess for her wisdom.

Over the past 400 years since He had last added to His written Word, it sometimes seemed as if God had forgotten His promise to redeem Israel. But Anna's heart was stirred by strange things happening in recent months - Zachariah struck mute while performing his highest yearly duty, Elizabeth a mother in her old age, that young girl from Nazareth the center of scandal as she claimed to be a virgin, yet with child.

This day seemed to Anna like every other, until Simeon (who seemed to be at the temple almost as often as Anna) rushed to the young couple and took in his arms the infant they had brought for circumcision. At that moment Anna realized that all the heartache of her lifetime had been worth this one moment she now witnessed. Had it not been for her life taking so many seemingly "wrong" turns, she would not be in this right place at this perfect time. As the weight of this tiny One filled the ache of her arms, the last remnants of grief were erased from her heart as well. What joy that, as a direct result of years of grief and loneliness, she was now privileged to proclaim the Consolation of Israel!