I don’t know if I’ll ever have a daughter. A husband is needed for such things, and unless God plops an eligible 30-something bachelor (taller than 5’9″ please) in the middle of Battambang province, I’m not sure that dream will ever become a reality. If I ever did have a daughter, I already have a name picked out (sorry Future Husband). I would want to name her Annika, which means “sweet-faced, beautiful, God has favored me”, and I think that is just the loveliest. The name also comes from Anna, a woman in the Bible that piques my curiosity and challenges my faith.
We only get a paragraph of her life, just 3 verses that barely scratch the surface of all she must have seen and experienced. Check out her story in Luke 2:36-38.
Anna, a prophet, was also there in the Temple. She was the daughter of Phanuel from the tribe of Asher, and she was very old. Her husband died when they had been married only seven years. Then she lived as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the Temple but stayed there day and night, worshiping God with fasting and prayer. She came along just as Simeon was talking with Mary and Joseph , and she began praising God. She talked about the child to everyone who had been waiting expectantly for God to rescue Jerusalem.
Anna loved God with all her heart, devoting her life to seeking His glory and presence. She could have been bitter over the tragedies in her life and the dreams that didn’t come true. She could have given up on the God that took an awfully long time to answer her prayer. But she didn’t. She was waiting with great expectation and when she finally saw that Jesus was the answer to that promise, she didn’t keep the message to herself. Oh, that my little faith would be like that as I wait for the answers that have not yet come in my own life.
Another thing I love about this woman is that she didn’t let her situation or station define her. She had a lot of things going against her in a culture that had no value for her gender, marital status and lack of children. I am quick to let shame dictate the response to my station as an “older” single who doesn’t really fit the expectation box of people anywhere. What, you’re already 31 and not married yet? No kids? What are you waiting for? But you want to work with pastors and leaders? You’re too young for that. Yeah, no box for all of that. Yet, despite Anna’s challenging status and the Bible even calling her “very old”, God chose her to bear witness to the infant Jesus as the Messiah. I have no idea if she lived long enough to see the fulfillment of the story, but I have no doubt that her faith that had been shaped and refined by the trials in her life didn’t waver. Nope, not a bit.
Anna, girl, you are my hero. Maybe someday I’ll get to name my daughter after you. Maybe not. But I hope that I can praise my Savior every day like you did, through the trials and the hard days and the good days, with the same kind of devotion that you displayed.