READ Luke 2:22-38
For three years, my husband and I have been asking the Lord to give us a second child to our family, and yet, He has withheld. I never knew how painful and wearying a season of waiting could be. We have felt insecure by our failure, deeply sad as our dreams have been unfulfilled, and battled off jealous comparison with a baseball bat.
This July, things got even harder. I was rushed to the hospital because I had excruciating abdominal pain, and it was there that I found out that I was pregnant… with an ectopic pregnancy… that had ruptured. I was rushed into emergency surgery to have my fallopian tube removed and to stop the hemorrhaging.
It only took a couple of weeks to heal physically, but as my physical strength grew, I found myself trying to figure out what to do with my shattered heart. The crisis and chaos of the night of my ectopic pregnancy revealed to me the brevity of life. As I wrestled with those fears, the new wave of grief over the loss of my longed-for child set in. The pain took my breath away, and deep sadness covered me like a wet blanket.
“Who will deliver me from this pain? This is not how it is supposed to be!” I exclaimed.
Jesus: Hope for the hopeless
Luke 2:22-38 introduces two humble servants who just so happen to be in the temple when Jesus comes to be circumcised: Simeon and Anna. Simeon was an old man who had been promised that he would not die before he saw the Messiah. He was waiting to die until he saw Jesus. Anna was an 84 year old widow who lost her husband when they had only been married 7 years. She devoted her life to worship rather than wallowing in bitterness and purposelessness. They were simple people who had heard the promises of a coming Messiah and were waiting for Him to come. And they did so amidst a rebellious and hard-hearted people with patience and purity.
I cannot help but believe that there were days where the light at the end of the tunnel seemed dim-- Surely the days grew long as Simeon’s body grew feeble. “Were the prophets right? Was the Messiah really going to come?” Surely Anna wondered as couples and thriving families passed by her going to and from the temple “Was this life of living at the temple, fasting, waiting and praying worth it?” And yet… they continued to wait on the Lord.
They had hope. And sweet sister, if you are in Christ, you do too.
What is hope?
John Piper says, “Christian hope is when God has promised that something is going to happen and you put your trust in that promise. Christian hope is a confidence that something will come to pass because God has promised it will come to pass. Hope is a portion or part of faith...hope is faith in the future tense.”
Christian hope is the confidence that the light at the end of your tunnel will never go out, because God is who He said He is, and He will do what He says He will do.
Simeon and Anna put their trust in God’s promise, and that promise proved true. Their faith turned into sight. One day, a man and woman brought their newborn baby named Jesus to the temple and there the Holy Spirit revealed that this little boy was the one for whom they had been waiting. The consolation of Israel and the hope of all the world had come. And both of their responses were the same: thanksgiving. Their mourning and waiting were turned to joy by a promise fulfilled.
Simeon and Anna waited for the first coming of the Messiah. They saw in part, but not the whole, but like them, we now find ourselves our the other side of his crucifixion and resurrection, waiting for Him to come again.
If you are hurting like me this Christmas season, sister, I imagine the pain of your circumstances is real and deep. I regularly feel it too. It’s okay to cry ugly tears and grieve. This world is so broken. But, I want to tenderly encourage you to “not grieve as others do who have no hope” (1 Thes 4:18).
Just like Simeon and Anna, Jesus delivers us from hopelessness and purposelessness in waiting and mourning and instead gives us living hope. Remember, the Light of the World has come even to this dark tunnel. Just as Simeon and Anna hoped in God’s word, because of the death and resurrection of Jesus, we can have confidence that His Word is true and that He is coming again (Luke 24:24-27). And like Simeon and Anna, we too can give thanks, even in our waiting and mourning because of the sure hope that Jesus gives. The wept for future years with a lost husband will not appear, the child for whom we long may never come, the circumstances by which we are so grieved may never change, but our promised Messiah will return to right every wrong and redeem everything. That is our hope. And it is certain.
I don’t know what your particular form of waiting or sorrow may be as you read this devotional, friend, but I pray that the joy of what Christ has done for you would move your heart to thanksgiving even as you long and wait for what has been withheld. And that the hope of his promised return would be a balm to your mourning heart that moves you past purposelessness to praise.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION/ APPLICATION:
- Are you in any long, dark tunnels that are tempting you to despair? If so, what are those?
- How does Christ’s birth, life, and resurrection deliver us from hopelessness? What bearing does the promise of his return have on how we endure our present circumstance?
- Read these other passages of scripture to encourage your weary heart with other promises for the broken and waiting: Romans 8:28; Psalm 34:18; Psalm 147:3; Psalm 40:1-3.
Emily Guyer and her husband Michael live in Raleigh, NC, with our twirly and delightful daughter, Amelia She is a work-at-home mom, graphic designer, disciple-maker, coffee-guzzler, memory-maker, and soon-to-be church planter’s wife in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Her biggest passion is to see Jesus Christ worshiped to the ends of the earth, making her deepest prayer that He will use every sphere of her life for that purpose.