"I don't celebrate Christmas," was the reply. "My husband died; my mother died, and my daughter died, so I don't celebrate."
I pitied the cashier who was trying to be cheerful, but we both pitied the lonely woman.
Something about the holidays amplifies loneliness.
|from: Midlife Country Girl.blogspot.com.|
However, the Christmas story holds hope for those who are alone. Tucked at the end of the nativity narrative are three verses in Luke chapter two about a widow who learned to live by herself but with joy. In less than a hundred words, Luke, the physician, historian, and author, elevates this widow as a role-model for any lonely soul.
|Aren't de Gelder (1645-1727)|
As a widow for so long, Anna could have pitied herself in the present and lived in the past. Instead, she turned her loneliness into happy solitude serving the Lord. How did she serve? Luke calls Anna a prophetess, someone who spoke God's Word back to the people. I am sure because Scripture tells us that she served the Lord day night, that she also spent a lot of time repeating His promises back to Him! Obviously, Anna had taken to heart the truth of Psalm one: "Happy is the man (or woman) who meditates day and night on the Law of the Lord."
What was she praying for? She was praying for deliverance for her people; she was asking the Lord to send his promised Messiah.
After six decades of praying, she was in the right place at exactly the right time to encounter Mary, Joseph, and the Christ child when they came for Mary's ritual purification forty days after giving birth. In answer to her prayers, Anna was on hand to witness the presentation of Mary's son at the temple.
|Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669)|
Hearing these words, the faithful widow recognized the six-week-old baby as "the Consolation of Israel, the Messiah."
However, the account does not end there. Immediately, Luke tells us, Anna told those who were looking for redemption of Jerusalem about the child. The prophetess must have been part of a group of faithful who read the Scrolls and watched for Messiah's coming.
|Rembrandt's Anna the Prophetess|
What gems of help are in this story for us. We do not have to entertain ourselves with TV, music, and movies to avoid emptiness and isolation. Nor do not have to fill our waking hours with frenetic activity to avoid loneliness. The prophetess chose a soul-satisfying alternative--prayer. We can do the same.
Christ, our Consoler and Deliverer, left us this invitation, "I stand at the door and knock, if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him and he with me" (Revelation 3:21).