Anna and the Barren Woman

 

Christmas is a tough time to be a barren woman. It’s a season of family gatherings, where sights of happy children and excited parents bring as much envy as the sight of grandparents delighted at one’s nieces and nephews brings guilt. There are the traditional Nativity pageants and the ubiquitous ads, commercials, specials, and movies all showing the Christmas spirit through the eyes of children and parents. And of course, there’s the reason for the season, in which a virgin manages what I, coming up on my twentieth wedding anniversary, cannot.

Which is why I find the story of Anna at Christ’s presentation at the Temple so meaningful. She was a widow and prophetess from the tribe of Asher. Her heritage is an important detail — the tribe of Asher was one of the wealthier tribes, and we see in her life the truth that a prosperous background is no guarantee of the “good life.” (In fact, she is the only prophet, male or female, known to be of Asher. There’s certainly a whole essay to be written on that observation.) Married only seven years of her 84, she undoubtedly spent half a century as a barren widow, one of the most lowly and pitiable positions possible in that time and place.

And yet, she is not bitter. She doesn’t come into the story to bemoan her fate, as do so many other Biblical widows, and practically alone of Biblical barren women, her story does not end with a miraculous pregnancy. That simply isn’t her role. She does end the story with a baby in her arms, but not as a child for her parents and in-laws to dote upon, nor to train into a worthy man, nor even to provide for her in her decline. Rather, that child comes to bring salvation, the only true promise Christians can rely upon. We are not guaranteed a spouse, children, security, or prosperity. Anna had none of those things. But we are guaranteed salvation by that baby’s sacrifice.

Merry Christmas.

Published in Religion & Philosophy
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There are 10 comments.

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  1. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    God bless you, Amy. Merry Christmas.

    • #1
  2. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Merry Christmas Amy.

     

    • #2
  3. WillowSpring Member
    WillowSpring
    @WillowSpring

    I am “just a guy”, so can’t really understand the feelings you have, but I object to the use of “Barren” to describe someone who can write such a heart felt and essentially uplifting story.

    • #3
  4. Hartmann von Aue Member
    Hartmann von Aue
    @HartmannvonAue

    Percival (View Comment):

    God bless you, Amy. Merry Christmas.

    What Percy said. The Lord bless and protect you, Amy. 

    • #4
  5. Bishop Wash Member
    Bishop Wash
    @BishopWash

    Merry Christmas Amy.

    • #5
  6. GLDIII Purveyor of Splendid Malpropisms Reagan
    GLDIII Purveyor of Splendid Malpropisms
    @GLDIII

    Hugs Amy, 

    I hope it was still a Merry Christmas, for us it was the first where we had no children at home any more. I know it is not the same, but I understand the emptiness of the home.

    • #6
  7. jmelvin Member
    jmelvin
    @jmelvin

    Excellent post, Amy.  We may never know why God provides some of our deepest desires, while leaving us wanting in others, yet we can trust that he is our provider and give thanks for what we have.  Sometimes when I look back, I see that the hardships I went through are something to be thankful for as it provided a perspective or experience that prepared me for something different or prepared me to be a blessing to someone else and I would have missed the joy of that opportunity had my desire been granted.

    Thank you for your reminder.  I suspect we will never outside of heaven those who Anna’s faithfulness and barrenness blessed, but it surely wasn’t for nothing.

    • #7
  8. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Merry Christmas!

    • #8
  9. Michael Collins Member
    Michael Collins
    @MichaelCollins

    Merry Christmas, Amy Schley!

    • #9
  10. Ida Claire Member
    Ida Claire
    @IdaClaire

    Thank you Amy Schlae. This touched me deeply. God Bless you.

    • #10
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