25 At that time there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon. He was righteous and devout and was eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come and rescue Israel. The Holy Spirit was upon him 26 and had revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27 That day the Spirit led him to the Temple. So when Mary and Joseph came to present the baby Jesus to the Lord as the law required, 28 Simeon was there. He took the child in his arms and praised God, saying,
29 “Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace,
as you have promised.
30 I have seen your salvation,
31 which you have prepared for all people.
32 He is a light to reveal God to the nations,
and he is the glory of your people Israel!”
33 Jesus’ parents were amazed at what was being said about him. (Luke 2:25-33, NLT)
Simeon was righteous and devout. He was also fortunate. For years he had longed to see the fruit of his faithful prayers – to see God’s gift of salvation for His people. He knew what God had promised and He trusted God to be faithful to the promise. For a long time the promise was not forthcoming yet Simeon continued to pray and trust. The evidence he held in his arms that day was the fulfilment of those many prayers. His ministry was complete and he could die in peace.
Yes, Simeon was fortunate. He wanted to see and he did. Sometimes we are fortunate like him. We see the reality of our prayers answered as Christ is birthed in our young people. It may occur quickly or it may require years of faithful prayer and labour. When we see the fruit of these prayers we feel a sense of exultation not entirely unlike what Simeon experienced that day.
Other times we are not so fortunate. Such a new birth, if it occurs at all, is much later in a young person’s life, beyond our sight and knowledge. We can be tempted to think, “That was a waste of my time”, or “Maybe I didn’t do enough?”
Simeon received a promise from God. He was told He would see the Lord’s Messiah. We receive no such promise regarding our ministry. Our calling is to tell of that Promise and to reflect that Light. At times we are fortunate. At other times we are not. Regardless, we are to be as Simeon: righteous, devout and faithful in prayer.
Reflection: Do I tend to use results as a way of assessing and validating the effectiveness of my ministry? Do I get too easily discouraged and lose hope when I don’t see quick results? Is my focus more on evidence of the promise than on the one who makes the promises?