WAITING ON GOD AT CHRISTMAS
Advent comes from the Latin term for coming or arrival, and the observance of Advent is all about waiting with anticipation and preparing for the Messiah. There are two characters in the Christmas story who wait longer than anyone else — longer than the two mothers with their miraculous pregnancies and even longer than the magi on their lengthy journey.
These two are also the most overlooked characters in the Christmas story — even more than the shepherds who, much to my chagrin, are regularly get left out of nativity scenes. This pair met the baby Jesus just weeks after the shepherds and at least a year or two before the magi. I’m speaking of none other than Simeon and Anna, who saw the infant Messiah when His family came to Jerusalem for Mary’s purification (Luke 2:22-38).
Luke tells us that Simeon was a righteous and devout man who had been looking forward to Israel’s consolation, which would come through the Messiah. In fact, the Holy Spirit had revealed to Simeon that he would not die until he saw the Messiah. Anna was an elderly prophetess who was widowed at a young age and had devoted her life to serving the Lord night and day at the temple with fasting and prayer.
Try to imagine what life would have been like for each of these servants of the Most High. Simeon was given an amazing promise, but then waited… and waited… and watched the world around him continue to worsen. How many times he must have wondered when the Messiah would finally come. And Anna’s life was marked by deep tragedy — the loss of her husband and sole source of her security — yet she responded with faithful devotion to the Lord. Rather than dismay, she responded with fasting and prayer, which are each an expression of her reliance on God alone.
Even though they may have been tempted to lose hope, when the time was right, Luke says that the Holy Spirit guided Simeon to meet Jesus. At last, Simeon’s faith became sight, and he beheld the salvation of God’s people. At last, Anna could proclaim the arrival of redemption.
This Advent, as we consider Mary and Joseph, shepherds and wise men, and even angelic messengers and fearful kings, let’s not forget Simeon and Anna and what their example has to teach us, especially those of us who are just hanging on or going through dark days. May we each find comfort and hope as we patiently wait on the Lord — confident in His promises and His perfect timing. Then, in the words of Isaiah:
On that day it will be said,
“Look, this is our God;
we have waited for him, and he has saved us.
This is the Lord; we have waited for him.
Let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.”
— Isaiah 25:9
— Josh Hall