Simeon is one of those Bible figures that sticks with me.
Maybe because so little is said about him, comparatively – and yet what is said speaks volumes. We don’t know much about him beyond what Scripture says, and he often gets subsumed into the greater Christmas story, and yet I find what I do know about him to be incredibly challenging.
The Bible tells us that Simeon is righteous and devout; he was eagerly awaiting “the consolation of Israel” (Luke 2:25). Because the Spirit has revealed to Simeon that “he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah,” (26), we understand that he is older, if not elderly – and yet his focus is not on the past, but on the future.
One day, Simeon is “moved by the Spirit” to go to the temple courts, where he sees Mary and Joseph bringing Jesus to fulfill the custom of the Law. Understanding immediately who Jesus is, Simeon takes the baby in his arms and says
Sovereign Lord, as You have promised, you now dismiss Your servant in peace.For my eyes have seen Your salvation,which You have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to Your people Israel (29-32).
After this, Simeon prophesies directly to Mary. And then that’s it. Simeon never appears again in the Bible.
As far as we know, Simeon only ever got to see a beginning. An infant. Close to the Spirit as he was, perhaps he could envision in one way or another the man that Jesus would become. Certainly, Simeon in his prophecy seems to have some understanding of what Jesus will symbolize, how He will divide His own people, and how this will eventually cost Mary, but it’s not indicated that he will witness the events or come to grasp the full nature of what Christ will do on the cross. The grandest unfolding of the story is yet to come, but this may well be all that Simeon encounters of it.
Isn’t that maddening?
If I was Simeon, I’d have begged for another twenty, thirty years. I’d have longed to see the absolute whole beginning-to-end consolation of Israel. Let me see what happens, Lord. Let me see. I’d have wanted to follow it all through to fruition, to have a front-row seat to the salvation of Israel. I would crave the wonder and the heartbreak and the glory and magic of it all. But that’s not quite what Simeon gets, and he’s not bothered by that. Simeon is content with a beginning. He is content with a sneak preview of God’s upcoming intervention. With a peek into the divine rescue.
Simeon knew that a little was enough.
I don’t. I struggle with only knowing a little. Especially lately. Convinced that God is working out a grand plan for my life, I am nonetheless enormously frustrated that I can only see one tiny corner of it. The rest of the picture is obscured from view. And frankly, I grow resentful from time to time.
God. This is my life we’re dealing with, here. Don’t you think it would be helpful for you to show me a little bit more of what You have going on with it? Of what you plan to do with it? Hello?
But it’s not my life. It has always been His, and the moment I accepted Christ I also handed over the keys to it. But I struggle to remember that I don’t need to know the whole plan. I struggle to realize I may never know the whole plan.
It is so hard.
That thing in your life? That thing in your life that’s happening and you don’t know why? That thing in your life that you think God will probably use for…well, something…but you don’t know what? That private pain? The unfulfilled dream? The recurring frustration? That thing?
Will you be fine if you never see how God plans to use it or what its purpose is? Can you be content with a sneak peek or a preview and maybe never grasping the full plan? For you, today, is a little enough?
I’m ashamed to admit that for me it’s often not, and for whatever reason this is a lesson God seems bent on teaching me. Stop. Wait. Just do what you’re doing right now. Yes, I am closing a lot of doors. Yes, it’s quite obviously Me doing it. And no, you don’t need to know why. Do you know I care? Do you trust My judgment? Then let a little be enough.
If you’re in my shoes, maybe you’re struggling, too. If that’s the case, I invite you to start praying along with me: let a little be enough. Whatever God grants you, whatever part of the picture you don’t see, whatever part of the plan you won’t witness or don’t know, may it be a blessing and a peace to you. May you find joy in the corners of God’s plan revealed here and there: may you settle your soul contentedly in what God longs to reveal to you, and nothing more and nothing less.
Most of all, may you continue to grow in the Spirit and hearken to His voice so that all of this can be possible.