Advent is a sacred holiday season, and this first week of Advent is about Hope. As a personal trainer, I hear about Hope as my clients express their goals. The women I work with face various challenges while seeking to improve their overall well-being. This week I am listening more intently, taking notes, and adding to my prayer list. In the mornings, I call out to the God of Hope to fill each woman with joy and peace so they might overflow with Hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.
One woman, in particular, is on my mind right now. Her story takes up a few sentences in the second chapter of Luke. Her name is Anna. In those precious few verses, we learn that she is a prophetess, a widow, and a devout worshiper of God. She spent her days and nights fasting for Advent, a season that lasted 84 years, in anticipation of Christ. Fasting was part of Anna’s hopeful season of waiting.
How Should We Wait?
As we enter this season of waiting to celebrate the birth of Christ, how are we to occupy ourselves? With holiday shopping? Cleaning and decorating for Christmas Day? Prayer and fasting don’t automatically come to mind when I think of Christmas. And yet, fasting has the power to pull us out of cultural expectations and into childlike awe born of Hope. While we aren’t told what Anna gave up during her years of fasting for Advent, we see that self-gratification took a backseat to the glorification of God.
Her years of worship, fasting, and praying were rewarded with a face-to-face encounter with Jesus when Mary and Joseph brought Him into the temple. May we pray, fast, and seek God’s direction during this Advent season. And while our month-long sacrifices cannot be compared to Anna’s, God, in His grace, still hears, answers, and provides new mercies each day. May you seek Him, find Him, and be found by Him during this sacred season.