The valley. We’ve all been in one at one time or another. We will all be in one at some point.
They are not fun. They are not wanted, and yet they eventually make their way to us. I have been in a valley. It’s been a little over 6 months. And it’s been hard. Actually, it’s been downright exhausting. There’s no easy way to say it. I have needed direction and provision in the worst way. I have felt as though the Lord has been incredibly silent. There have been moments filled with more questions than answers, more doubt than faith.
No one wants to admit they question God or doubt His character or plan. But I have. And I’m sure you have too.
But God is completely okay with that. After all, He is the God of the universe, the creator of ALL things, including us.
He is more than able to handle our questions, worries, doubts and fears. I am continually learning to embrace this. I am learning to approach Him and lay every one of those questions, worries, doubts, and fears at His feet. I am learning to leave them there in order for Him to do what He does best. That is Him showing up and showing off in my life as He delights in doing.
I recently had the privilege to speak to a group of widows at my church’s Dream Center. Beforehand, I prayed about what I should speak about. In their season, they deal with so many concerns . . . loneliness, worry, provision, and protection — to name a few.
I realized, I deal with those same concerns. Although we are different, we are the same. I spoke with a dear friend, and she suggested that I speak about one of the widows in the Bible. She named a few and one name stuck out to me. The widow and prophetess, Anna.
In chapter 2 of Luke, it’s all about Jesus! Luke wrote about the birth of Jesus, Him being presented at the temple, and Him teaching at the temple. Seemingly, in the midst of all of these verses, three verses are dedicated to Anna.
I’ve read them before, but in light of my recent season, there was new revelation for me. I knew this was a now-word for these precious widows as well.
“There was also a prophetess, Anna, a daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was well along in years, having lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and was a widow for 84 years. She did not leave the temple complex, serving God night and day with fasting and prayers. At that very moment, she came up and began to thank God and to speak about Him to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.” (Luke 2:36-38)
Anna never left the temple.
She knew there was value in staying planted in the house of God. She was married only 7 years, and there is no mention of children. It would’ve been so easy for her to hide and become isolated. But she didn’t. She committed herself to the place where she would find hope, healing, peace, and community.
Anna fasted, prayed, and served.
She kept the lines of communication open with God and with others. In hard seasons, I want to shut down and be silent. But it’s in those times when God wants increased intimacy with us. He desires us to be beyond honest with Him and to hear His truth louder than our feelings. Often times, that greater intimacy comes though fasting. Fasting positions our spirits to be receptive to the work He wants to do in us and through us. She served. She engaged in community and focused on the needs of others. When we become the hands and feet of Christ for others, God steps in and joyfully meets our needs.
Anna testified of Jesus to the crowd with thanksgiving.
She held on to truth. God’s truth doesn’t change with our circumstances or our emotions. It is unyielding and unchangeable. It remains and stands firm. Anna knew that. She continued to offer the hope of Christ to all who came in the temple. She did so with a heart of gratitude. Despite the questions and doubts she probably had, I think she cultivated a lifestyle of thanking God more for who He is than what He had done for her.
I have a lesson or two to learn from Anna. Maybe you’re thinking the same thing. Painful seasons come, but they also go.
How we walk through those seasons is key to how we live once we’ve come through them.
Let’s be daughters who, regardless of what our situation is, stay committed . . .
- to being in the house of God.
- to being connected to God.
- to being connected to others.
- to declaring the truth of Christ.
- to giving continuous thanks.
If you find yourself in a trying season with doubts and questions, I’d love to say a prayer for you!