". . . and having done all . . . stand firm." Eph. 6:13


Simeon Is an Example of Faith, Trust, and Patience We Can All Learn From

January 7, 2024

How often is our faith tested by waiting? We wait to find a partner, get married, or have a baby. We wait for a job or a raise. Over the course of our lives, we spend a lot of time waiting in various contexts and for various amounts of time. Some waiting periods are only a few minutes, while others spend years or their whole lives just simply waiting.

As Christians, I’d say it’s common for us to discuss waiting and patience. We are reminded of a verse like Ecclesiastes 3:1, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” Or the phrase, “God’s timing is perfect!” But even if we say we believe these words, in many cases, our lives, thoughts, and emotions do not reflect such belief.

Like the arena of suffering, waiting often causes us to struggle deeply with our faith because we lose sight of what it means to trust God fully and to have patience for His will to come about. We take the waiting as a silence that indicates God isn’t doing anything. But if we take a step back, especially when looking back on our past, we see the Lord is always faithful. And, more often than not, we can see how He was clearly at work in our times of waiting, despite not noticing it at the time.

A biblical example of faith, trust, and patience I think we can all learn from is Simeon. We don’t know much about this man, and nearly all we do know is found in the beginning of the Gospel of Luke. The testimony we read may be brief, but it is surely profound. Here is what we know:

“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. And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said:

‘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 2:26-32).

We do not know when Simeon was promised he would see the Messiah, nor do we know how long he waited or how old he was once it happened. However, most assume he was fairly advanced in years. For all we know, Simeon spent the majority of his life waiting for the Messiah.

Additionally, Luke highlighted that Simeon was “righteous and devout” in “waiting for the consolation of Israel.” These characteristics are not achieved overnight. For Luke to have considered him righteous and devout in his waiting, I think it’s safe to say Simeon had to have enough time to prove that was true about him. In my experience, most dissect this passage and this figure with an understanding that he was probably at the temple looking for the Messiah almost every single day, and likely for many, many years. Like I said, there is not a lot we know about him, but what we do know certainly applies to us today.

When Simeon saw baby Jesus, he wasn’t shaking his fist at God saying, “Why did it take You so long, huh?” Nor do we have any indication that he was afraid he would die before seeing the Messiah, thus doubting the promise. No, instead, Simeon rejoiced! Moreover, what he did say strongly implies that, whatever did occur before this moment recorded in Scripture, it was wrapped in steadfast faith.

He said, “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word.” I don’t know about you, but this reads as a man who was fully confident in what the Lord said would happen. I don’t sense even the slightest bit of anything else. But there is another aspect that confirms his confidence, and it is the fact that he was content to die having seen only a little baby Jesus. He didn’t need miracles, or to witness the cross on Calvary. He knew this to be the Messiah, and that was enough.

Pastor and theologian R.C. Sproul summarized it this way:

“[Simeon’s] saying, in effect: ‘I have seen Him. I have looked into the face of my Savior. I do not have to wait to watch Him grow and be nurtured in the admonition of the Lord. I do not need to watch Him in His public ministry, listen to His teaching, or watch the miracles that He will perform. I do not need to see the transfiguration. I do not have to be an eyewitness of the atoning death on the cross or of His resurrection from the dead. I have seen all I have ever needed to see, and in this face, I see the light of salvation that God has promised to His people, which is the consolation that we have been waiting for. Now, it is enough. Let me die. I am tired; I have endured so much. I have seen the salvation that you have promised. Let me go home.’”

When you are in a season of waiting, how often do you shake your fist at God? How often do you pray, “God, where are you right now?” Or do you even pray at all?

How often does your season of waiting bring you closer to God, rather than pull you away? Simeon is an example of faith, trust, and patience we can all learn from because he is an example of waiting with determined faith in God’s promise, trust in His character, and patience for His timing. This is a man who believes God is who He says He is: faithful, just, and abounding in steadfast love.

I wish I could say my waiting always pushed me closer to Christ. But the reality is that it often wasn’t until way after that season of waiting ended that I looked back and acknowledged God’s consistent hand in my life. So, I am thankful for examples like Simeon. With each year, I get closer and closer to trusting and abiding in God during the waiting, rather than simply wanting it to be over. God teaches us so much about Himself in those times, and we don’t want to miss it just because things aren’t going the way we want them to.

If you truly believe in the perfect, all-powerful, sovereign God of the Bible, then you know there is no moment in which He is not holding you in His righteous right hand. If you believe in the one, true God, then you know He is faithful to give purpose to all you endure, just to establish the timing and means by which He accomplishes His will, and abounding in steadfast love to ensure you are better at the end of it all.

Sarah Holliday is a reporter at The Washington Stand.