Simeon and Anna
Yes I Will Worship While I Wait
The holidays have a way of marking time. Like birthdays or anniversaries, holidays remind us that we’re older. These reminders help us evaluate our lives through a wide-angle lens. It’s the wide-angle, long view which reveals to us our progress or lack there-of, our achievements and disappointments, our joys and our suffering.
For Simeon and Anna, an honest look at the long view of their lives revealed a deep, inner anguish. Let’s consider their situations…
Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel.Luke 2:25a
And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four.Luke 2:36-37a
Anna had been a poor widow for 50-60 years. Simeon is a man whose third defining characteristic was that he was “waiting for the consolation of Israel.” The definition of consolation is “comfort received by a person after a loss or disappointment.”
To suffer internally, where no one can see, is perhaps the most difficult kind of suffering.
Anna had lived alone almost her entire life. Simeon had been living in light of loss and disappointment his entire life. Both of these people had been suffering internally. To suffer internally, where no one can see, is perhaps the most difficult kind of suffering.
Yet, they waited.
And the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.Luke 2:25b-26
We love to look for the presence of the Holy Spirit in worshipful ecstasy, in miracles, in crowds. But here, the Holy Spirit is present in the waiting. In fact, in the 7 short verses that mention Simeon, the Holy Spirit is mentioned 3 times. It’s almost as if the author is trying to hammer home a point: “this old man, whose life has been marked by waiting, has the Holy Spirit!”
Simeon’s life was marked by waiting for comfort, waiting for a promise to be fulfilled. For Simeon, the presence of God felt like the absence of God.
To wait, to experience the inner burn of hope deferred is not mutually exclusive with the presence of God. For Simeon and for Anna, this kind of waiting compelled worship.
And he came in the Spirit into the temple,Luke 2:27
She did not depart from the temple, worshipping with fasting and prayer night and day.Luke 2:37b
Their consolation did not come quickly. It came after a lifetime of waiting. Yet, God knew their inner burning and was present to it. Though they did not have the desires of their hearts, they had God.
Like Simeon and Anna, some inner burning is not meant to be cooled but turned into a bright furnace of holiness. Though we be scalded we are not consumed. In that furnace one can know the voice of God (v. 34-35), and from that furnace come songs of praise.
And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said, “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.”…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.Luke 2:27-30; 38
All of us are waiting for the return of Christ, our final and eternal consolation. For others of us, there is also a personal anguish which comes from a personal desire which has not been fulfilled. Some of us have been waiting a long time for this pain to go away. God has a purpose not only for the wait, but in the length of the waiting.
Whatever we are waiting for, let us worship while we wait. Let us direct our song of longing to God and see how He turns it to a song of praise.
Practice and prayer:
Take a piece of paper and write down something you’ve been waiting for. Then turn on a worship song and offer your longing to God through prayer and worship.