Nearly 12 years ago exactly, I was heavily pregnant with my youngest child. Having had two early babies, I fully expected my third to be early as well, arriving at least 3 weeks early. My due date came and went and I was still waddling like a duck.
Those first few years of having little children were a haze. Life was incredibly busy – juggling, surviving, barely sleeping. Every moment of the day was consumed with some kind of task, responsibility and adulting.
Elsewhere that year, major shifts were happening: Boris Johnson defeated Ken Livingstone in the London Mayoral elections, Lewis Hamilton became the youngest ever Formula One World Champion, Barack Obama became the first African-American president of the US, Russia had a new president and the global economy entered into recession.
During the time of Jesus’ birth, estimated to be around 5 BC, God’s people were under the rule of the Roman Empire. It was an extremely busy time politically and socially.
Many people adopted other cultures whilst divisions arose amongst religious leaders leading to various denominations and sects competing for prestige – think Pharisees and Sadducees.
Meanwhile, most ordinary people busied themselves with making a living and caring for their families.
There was a man called Simeon – one of the few righteous, devout and true worshippers of God.
The Bible says in Luke 2:25, Simeon was waiting for the “consolation of Israel”.
At this time, there had only been silence from heaven for 400 years. God had ceased speaking to His people. There were no prophets after Malachi and no new revelation from God.
But in this deafening silence, Simeon waited faithfully. The Bible says “…the Holy Spirit was on him.”
Is the Holy Spirit on us at times of waiting? During seasons when we are only met with silence from God about something we’ve been praying for and need comfort in, is the Holy Spirit on us?
Through dry or troubling times, Simeon was ready and willing to hear from the Holy Spirit despite having heard nothing for so long. He didn’t give up, lose hope or quit on God.
Simeon kept waiting until the Holy Spirit revealed to him that he would not die before he’d seen the Messiah – the Promised One. With that revelation, Simeon was moved by the Holy Spirit to go into the temple courts.
Has the Holy Spirit revealed something to us in the past, a promise that we know we could hold on to during tough and challenging times when all we get from heaven is resounding silence?
Are we ready to be moved by the Holy Spirit when He speaks to us?
I eventually gave birth to my youngest daughter almost a week late on Christmas Eve, 12 years ago today. With three children just about under 3, life was even busier than I could have imagined!
Three months later I started a business – something that I thought just fell on my lap. But actually, reflecting on it now, being an entrepreneur was something that the Holy Spirit had put in me a few years prior even before I started a family and just never focused on.
At the temple, Simeon saw God’s promise in the flesh. How amazing must that have felt!
God rewarded Simeon’s faithfulness in the most tangible way. He actually got to hold the child Jesus in his arms and to proclaim Jesus as Saviour just as God had revealed to him prior.
“For my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel. (Luke 2 v 30-32)”
Tomorrow is Christmas Day – a celebration of the birth of Jesus – God’s ultimate promise to all of us. We are beneficiaries of God’s promise now – salvation through Jesus Christ. And with this salvation comes many more promises that God speaks to us individually deep within our hearts.
As we wait faithfully on the Holy Spirit always looking to Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, what God has spoken He will always see to fruition so that we too, like Simeon, will see the fulfilment of God’ promises in our lives.
Dear Lord, help us listen to the Holy Spirit in our daily lives and keep us focused on Jesus.
Written by Lily Sawyer, a member of Hope Church Newham. Lily is married to David and they have three children.