Tuesday, December 31, 2019
In yesterday’s devotional we discussed how to navigate the stormy waters of rejection and emotional distress by having an eternal perspective on life. Mary had such a perspective through her constant meditation on God and His divine purpose. Her perspective was also enriched through the ministry of people who encouraged her. The ministry of encouragement is incredibly significant to each one of us.
Luke 2:36-38 There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. 38Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.
At the very moment that Mary is being told by Simeon that the life of her Son Jesus would result in the piercing of her soul, a prophetess named Anna comes to her side and gives thanks to God. Anna saw the eternal perspective that Jesus would be the Redeemer, and she encouraged Mary to look at everything from that vantage point.
We all need encouragers like that every now and then; probably more often than we recognize. There is nothing quite so comforting in times of emotional distress than to have a shoulder to cry on and an ear that will listen. We need people who can step back from the negative and pour on the positive – not in a sappy and insincere way, but with words that reflect God’s perspective on things. Anna did that for Mary simply by giving thanks to God.
Not only do we need people like that, we need to be people like that. The world is a depressing place to live for those who have no hope. There are billions of people trying to make sense of life. We who have God’s eternal perspective need to come along side of them at the very moment of their distress and give them a reason to be thankful. We need to be like Anna, constantly living in the presence of God, walking through life in an attitude of prayer and relationship with Jesus Christ, so that at any moment we will be prepared to give thanks to God, showing others the hope of redemption. We do not live for this world, but we are looking forward to the total redemption of this world when Jesus returns. Paul says in First Thessalonians that we are to encourage one another with this hope.
Be on the lookout today for people who need hope, and then come alongside them and be thankful. They need an encourager, and you are just the one to do it.