According to Merriam-Webster, the simple definition of thrive is, “ to grow or develop successfully: to flourish or succeed.”
Tucked within the second chapter of the Gospel of Luke is a precious and faithful woman who epitomizes the definition of thriving. Her name is Anna, the prophetess, and the following words were penned about her:
And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher, She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, and then as a widow until she was eight-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. And coming up at that very hour she began, to give thanks to God and to speak of Him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem. Luke 2: 36-37
So much said in so few words: a woman full of grace and character who prospered greatly within her unchanging circumstances.
She lived in her aloneness for so many years. Were there tears of sadness shed at each Passover, birthday, family gathering, or other Jewish feast? Did her heart ache because she bore no offspring?
Yet, like the wildflowers of the desert, she thrived. I surmise it wasn’t painless. It was most likely a deliberate choice to choose joy, choose gratitude, and trust the goodness of God. The fruit of her life shouts volumes to the intentionality of her will to surrender her circumstances and posture her heart toward God.
Anna’s sustained praying, fasting, and worshipping opened the door for God’s grace to blow the healing winds of new life over the empty places of loss. The ribbons of redemption and restoration are woven through Anna’s story and are greatly highlighted in the crowning years of her long life. The generous hand of God allowed those wise old eyes to see the long awaited Messiah and to proclaim His arrival among the people of the temple.
That, my friends, is living and thriving right in the middle of the goodness of God. That can be our story, too…
Prayer: Abba-Father, thank you for your promise to meet us in the middle of our stories with the offer of grace, provision, and life. Thank you for people like Anna who show us that thriving is truly possible in the middle of hard unchanging circumstances. Amen.
Today, let’s each take a few minutes and ask God to show us the places that are hindering us from thriving. Surrender them and allow God to breathe new life into these hindered places.
We were meant to thrive.
Author: Maryanne Abbate