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Photograph by Anna Arpasi

Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him.

Luke 2:25

 

Four hundred years. Four hundred years of silence. Israel had grown used to prophets and judges and kings speaking the words of the Lord to them, for them. Sometimes they warned. Sometimes they comforted. Sometimes they predicted. But, regardless, they were. Many of them spoke of a coming Messiah, the consolation of Israel, who would bring hope to all people and the restoration of all creation. All of Israel longed for his appearance. But, then, silence. Four hundred years of silence.

And yet, it seems that there were still whispers. There were those who still heard His voice. Not the kings, the judges, the famous but a man named Simeon and a widow named Anna. They were both faithfully listening in anonymity.

Simeon was only a man, just and devout, carefully worshipping God as best he knew how for decades, day after day. Along his journey, he learned to hear God’s voice, probably through worship, through obedience, through leaning in and listening. And God honored him. He whispered to Simeon’s heart that he would see the Messiah before he died. We don’t know when God had given him this promise. We don’t know how long he had been waiting, expecting, hoping. And yet, he never stopped looking.

Only married for seven years, Anna became a widow at twenty or twenty-one. The grief and disappointment and desperation must have been overwhelming. In that culture widows had no inheritance, no rights, no provision. They were powerless and forgotten. And yet, in that darkness, she learned to hear the light. She learned to hope. Anna became known as a prophetess, a mouthpiece of God, and spent the rest of her eighty-four years, living in the temple, fasting and praying. And waiting, expecting, hoping.

We too have moments when we hear Him. A sunset touches deep within. A friend’s encouragement carries weight. A verse leaps out in significance. A dream lingers. A Voice whispers to our heart. These moments are pregnant with promises. Promises of hope. Of restoration. Of reconciliation. Of healing. Do we move on quickly, forgetting what we felt, ignoring the tug? Do we laugh at our naivete to believe? Do we file them under false claims? Or do we, like Simeon and Anna, take them out and inspect them? Memorize them? Wonder over them? Believe them? Pray and fast over them? Spend our days in His presence, waiting, expecting, hoping?

God, what I want for Christmas is to remember what your voice sounds like. Give me ears tuned to your presence. Remind me of words you’ve already spoken to me, and your promises, the dreams I’ve ignored or buried so deep they’ve been forgotten. Grant me the courage to pull them into the light and look at them, pray over them, believe them, and the patience to wait for their fulfillment with expectation.

 

By Beth McDonald