“Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.” Luke 2:25-26
My roommates and I have been reading through the book of Luke in our “family” devotional times. We were especially struck when we got to the story of Simeon. In Luke 2, after a fairly extensive detailing of Christ’s birth, we meet an elderly man who has been waiting for decades to see the Christ. Our only insight into Simeon’s character is contained in one short verse – “he was righteous and devout” and above all, patient. It is beautiful to see Simeon’s long suffering concluded as he holds the eight day old child in his arms and prophesies, “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.” (Luke 2:29-32) After another short interaction with Mary and Joseph, Simeon disappears from the scene. After reading this story, I wondered why Luke chose to include it in his thorough recording of history. Furthermore, how should we read it? Is it just a nice story of an aging, probably ailing, man who was granted one last wish? Or is it something I can relate to today?
Obviously, I lean towards the latter option because everyone is waiting for something. A job. A spouse. A child. A home. A healed relationship. Forgiveness. Health. Peace. We can all either wait patiently, trusting in the goodness of God who loves his children and delights to give them good gifts, or we can become increasingly bitter as our time of waiting grows from months, to years, to decades. This is one reason why I think Simeon’s story has been recorded in Scripture. He sought the Lord yearning for the promise given to him to be fulfilled. Simeon was not content to wait passively or to let his promise go unfulfilled. He was unwilling to settle for less than God’s best and tenaciously waited for as long as it took.
But a second crucial aspect of his story is that Simeon recognized when the promise was fulfilled, even in ways he might not have expected. He may not have known that he was waiting for a newborn to be the Lord’s salvation and a light to the Gentiles. Simeon may have expected someone with a little more “experience” to provide the fulfillment to such a lofty promise. But Simeon, constantly patient and faithful, recognized the baby Jesus as the answer to all his prayers.
I too am waiting and I too want to be unwilling to settle for less than God’s best for me and, perhaps most difficult of all, I too want to recognize it when He provides. Lately, my eyes have been enlightened to the blessings in my life. Though my life is not what I imagined it would look like, I can see the provision of the Lord in the midst of it all and that His plan is the best for me. I am able to work, still pay my bills, write regularly, and volunteer my extra time ministering at my church – which has been fun, exciting, and rewarding beyond what I could have imagined. No, I’m not where I expected because I don’t have a husband, or children, or a house, or a long-term plan, but I am recognizing the amazing provision of the Lord in my unexpected circumstances. I hope that you too can be encouraged by the life of Simeon as you wait on the Lord. Wait actively, be unwilling to settle, and keep on the lookout for gifts and blessings – even in the most unexpected ways!
Waiting for (and Recognizing!) God’s Best,