Why is Anna so greatly honoured? This is the question raging in too few circles. Some people are honoured in their generation. (This mostly happens for a day or two.) Fewer people though enjoy being honoured throughout the duration of their generation. But only a very small number of people are honoured throughout two millennia of generations, and even fewer who are such honoured are additionally honoured by people from every nation over that same time. Anna is one such person who unsuspectingly breathes this rarest of air. The reason for her acknowledged greatness always surprises those who discover it.
Fame sometimes brings fleeting honour. Noble achievements often brings deserved and prolonged honour. But what causes a person to be honoured perpetually - for millenniums around the world? The kinds of achievements that perhaps warrant this kind of honour are usually exercised by Kings, Emperors, political or religious leaders. Besides these elites, people who achieve the extraordinary are duly honoured by their nations. But Anna was none of these and didn't do any of the feats that most people would call extraordinary. Yet she is honoured still to this day in the pages of the world's most sacred text.
¶ There was also a prophetess, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old, having been married to her husband for seven years until his death.
Anna probably had hopes and expectations for her future just as every other young woman does when they start their married life. But tragedy struck early for Anna. Life can sometimes take unexpected turns - even for a prophet or a prophetess. Her groom became ill shortly after they married, and in just a few short years, all her hopes of children and eventually grandchildren vanished when he died. It was perhaps then that the Lord began to speak sweetly to her heart about the Child that was to come - 'the Redemption of Jerusalem'.
By the time Anna saw the Child, she had waited over 60 years for the promised moment. She had kept herself sexually pure as a virgin until her marriage as Scriptures instructs. She had every reason to believe that because she was faithful to God that He would bless her and her marriage. But it seemed to all that God had let down! For a Hebrew woman, becoming a mother was a position of great honour and badge of God's blessing upon them. She was denied this. The other women in the city could only coldly speculate as to why God would deny her this blessing. (People's gossip and misunderstanding can be a most cruel burden to endure.) But Anna did what cannot come naturally when she was faced with this horrible adversity: she went to the Temple and worshipped God. I say 'unnatural' because it requires a deep work by the Holy Spirit in the heart of a person. Anna was such a person.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."
Too many people who profess faith in God, when facing adverse life-circumstances (such as busyness, tiredness, financial pressure, sport, visit by family), are lured away from church attendance. Like King David before her, when faced with deep sorrow, rather than shake a clenched fist at God - she raised her open and surrendered hands to God. Trials don't change people - trials reveal people. And while many people are enthusiastic for the things of God immediately after their conversion but then begin to wane as time goes on, Anna exhibitedabiding commitment to the House of God. Some people get excited about church when the crowds are there. But Anna's love for God and His House was not based on how many joined her. Anna was continually in the House of God worshiping the Lord.
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.
Anna knew God. She recognised that her body was a sacred gift from God. She learned to hear from God and to excercise her gift of prophecy to bless others. She grew in her trust and adoration of God and reflected this love for God by loving what He loved. She was faithful in attending the House of God. She developed in the spiritual disciplines, most especially in prayer (at a stage when many older women feel that they are of no use to God anymore) while in the House of God. She was honoured by God to see the fulfilment of His promise to her that she would behold the Child. And for all this she was honoured by God as He inspired the divine record of His Son's early stages of life on earth as the incarnate yet eternal Son of Man. Added to this cause for great honour, the Scriptures go on to say that after she had seen Israel's promised Redeemer, she boldly told everyone that He was now aong them.
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.
You are never 'wasting' time when you worship like Anna. Attendance at church is most worshipful when it is passionate, consistently regular, prayerful, gift-pooling, and evangelistic. Whether there is a handful of people, or hundreds of people, makes no difference to those who worship like Anna. Whether you 'see' God every time you enter the House of God or not, makes no difference to the one worshiping like Anna, because they have learned that they can see God more clearly with their eyes closed anyway. Whether you are up the front or obscured in the middle of the congregation doesn't change the fact for those who worship like Anna - God always sees us when we are in His House honouring Him. Put all of these factors together and you soon realise why God's smile rested upon Anna and He chose to greatly honour her.