36 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, 37 and then was a widow until she was eighty-four.[e] She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying.38 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)
“How many more days until Christmas, Mom?”
If I’d heard it once, I’d heard it a hundred times. The anticipation was building and the boys just could not wait for the big day.
Some say anticipation makes what you’re waiting for even sweeter. If so, this day in the verse above was the sweetest day of all for Anna, the prophetess who had waited for years to see the promised babe.
Anticipation is always a part of Christmas. After all, it comes on the heels of Thanksgiving, a time when we empty our hearts out of thanks, leaving plenty of room for the Christ Child.
What can our boys learn from the story of Anna?
1. Yes, it’s hard to wait, but God works while we wait.
What did Anna do as she waited for the Christ Child? Scripture tells us she stayed close to God, worshiping, fasting, and praying. Putting others first, she lived life as a servant and gave God time to work.
Our boys have hopes and dreams, big ones and small. But as they wait, we can remind them that God is at work. For us, waiting time seems like, well, just waiting. We forget that behind the scenes, God is always at work. Not only does He work in us as we wait, He’s working in others. He has the master plan.
2. As we wait, we need to keep sight of the dream.
Anna must have watched Mary and Joseph come in; she saw Simeon’s blessing. She came up, at that very moment. She waited in watchfulness and as a result, she saw the fulfillment of a dream.
Don’t let the dream die! It’s easy for our boys to give up when they face failure or hard times, but those are some of the most valuable learning experiences. Encourage them to hang on to their dreams. Season your encouragement, Mom, with a balanced dose of reality and vision. Keep encouraging them that God will use all the things they’ve done and dreamed in their lives if they yield those things to Him.
3. Thankfulness is important.
Her wait was over. This was THE moment Anna had waited for, for years. Her immediate reaction was to give thanks to God. She didn’t give credit to anyone else—she recognized the source of the blessing and expressed her thanks.
We—and our boys—may say “thanks,” and consider that is the whole of thankfulness. It is, in a sense. But don’t forget the Source of all our blessings. Not only are we thankful for our family, for example, but we’re thankful that God gave us this family. As our sons achieve successes large and small—and as they undergo trials—help them to see God as the Source of all, and remind them that He is working those things together for good.
4. Spread the good news!
Anna couldn’t keep the good news of the Christ Child to herself. Scripture tells us she spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to Jerusalem’s redemption.
When we share our blessings–truly share them; they bless someone else. They point others to the Source of blessing. Encourage your boys to share their good news, as small as it may seem. Reporting that Big Brother helped today seems like a small thing, but it fills a mom’s heart with joy, it encourages Brother to set a good example, and it helps a child rejoice in putting his brother first.
There are so many ways to share the good news of Christ today. With all our communication technology, our sons can actually share Christ around the globe. Let them write a poem, a song, a speech, or a scene and post it somewhere online for them. Encourage feedback from those who see it, so your boys can see that today’s technology can be used not just for fun, but to further the Gospel.
So as you remember Anna’s life this season, don’t forget all that is happening while we wait.
God is at work.
Hold onto the dream.
Share the news.
UnWrapping the Gift
- What was one thing in your life that you had to wait an extremely long time for? Ask your sons what’s something they’ve had to wait for?
- Has there been a time in your life when you traded waiting for instant gratification? Tell your boys about it. What impact did it have in your life?
- What are you waiting for right now?
Laura Lee Groves is the mother of four sons and the author of I’m Outnumbered! One Mom’s Lessons in the Lively Art of Raising Boys, in addition to Pearl, a novel about international adoption.