By anyone’s definition, Anna was old. Married for only 7 years, a widow until age 84, Anna had witnessed the passing of decade after decade. Her world was not a large one, as she was consigned to living in the temple and devoted herself to fasting and prayer; she mostly worshiped and waited. The years of waiting were finally over when she spotted him: the precious infant lying in the young mother’s arms. Angels had announced this child’s birth. Now an aged woman became another in the line of those who sang the chorus of annunciation: The Messiah had come! What a beautiful message from a beautiful woman who had waited years to proclaim her prophetic message.
Nineteenth-century author and abolitionist Harriet Beecher Stowe once wrote, “So much had been said and sung of beautiful young girls, why don’t somebody wake up to the beauty of old women?”
We live in a youth-oriented culture. American women spend millions of dollars each year on products designed to keep us young—or at least to help us appear that way. Older women can easily feel marginalized—as if their days of usefulness are past. Yet Scripture reminds us that God reserves some of his most significant assignments to women who have attained the maturity to handle them—like Anna the prophetess.
As the years pass, do you sometimes wonder whether the best ones are now behind you? Do your options seem limited and your value diminished? When you set your heart to serve God, you can continue to do so whatever your health, age or personal circumstances.
Angels and an elderly woman announced the birth of the Savior of the world. Approximately 33 years later, angels and a select group of women proclaimed the astounding news of his resurrection from the dead. Age and gender present no barrier when God entrusts us with a divine message or mission.
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, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. 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.