Anna’s wedding day must have been a joyous occasion, a most important day in the life of a young Jewish woman. And she almost certainly would have married as a young teenager, according to the custom of her day. It was the hope of every Jewish maiden to marry and bear children. But Anna had been chosen by God for a unique purpose. Luke tells us that she was a prophet, gifted with special wisdom and insight. Did her husband realize what a treasure God had given him?
After only seven years of marriage, Anna’s husband died. Her world was torn apart. She was only in her twenties and already a widow. Anna could have become bitter and angry at God for allowing this tragedy in her life, but instead she let her suffering draw her closer to God. Believing in God’s special purpose for her life, she devoted herself to serving him.
For many decades, Anna lived in the Temple, spending her days in fasting and prayer. She lived in a time of great political upheaval and religious corruption, yet she faithfully interceded for her people, trusting in God’s promise of a Messiah. Throughout the year, Jewish families came to Jerusalem to offer sacrifices and celebrate religious holidays. Year after year, they saw Anna serving in the Temple; she had been there as long as most people could remember and they admired her devotion.
By the time she reached eighty-four years old, Anna’s physical health had no doubt deteriorated, but her spiritual senses were keen and sharp. A lifetime of diligently seeking the Lord had made her uniquely sensitive to his leading. Anna was a woman devoted to prayer, not just talking to the Lord, but listening to his voice. Like Enoch and Elijah before her, Anna truly walked with God. That is why when a certain young couple came to the Temple to dedicate their infant son, she knew immediately that this was no ordinary child.