What to Do With Life's Disappointments


How do you know when someone is wise? You look at their decisions.

“[Anna] did not leave the temple, serving God night and day with fasting and prayers.” (Luke 2:37 CSB) 

Over the past couple of days, we’ve been looking at the wise women in the Christmas story. Today you’ll meet the third wise woman, Anna. When her circumstances would have made it easy to do otherwise, she chose to focus on God’s presence and to tell everyone she could about Jesus. 

Luke 2 says that Anna had been a widow for 84 years. The love of her life had died when Anna was still very young. This wasn’t what she had planned for herself. Disappointment could have made her bitter. But the Bible gives us a different picture. Luke 2:37 says, “[Anna] did not leave the temple, serving God night and day with fasting and prayers” (CSB). 

When Anna’s husband died, she could have chosen to let her love die too. Instead, she wisely redirected her love to God. She spent her days and nights focusing on his presence instead of her disappointment. 

If you haven’t yet, one day you will probably find someone you want to love is no longer there. What do you do with your love in those circumstances? If you’re wise, you’ll focus on God’s presence and redirect your love.

I’ve seen many couples make this decision when they’re longing for a baby but can’t have one. I’ve seen them adopt or become foster parents. They’ve taken their love and redirected it. They’ve focused on God’s presence by giving his love to one of the many children in the world in need of it.

Anna also made a second wise decision when her husband was no longer there for her to love. After spending years in God’s presence at the temple, she finally met Jesus—and immediately began spreading the Good News about him. 

When Jesus was eight days old, Mary and Joseph brought him to the temple, and Anna was there. The Bible says: “At that time Anna came in and praised God. She spoke about the child Jesus to everyone who hoped for Jerusalem to be set free (Luke 2:38 CEV).

From the moment she met Jesus, she started telling other people about him. The Bible says, “He who wins souls is wise(Proverbs 11:30 NKJV). Anna was wise because she chose to tell other people about the Good News of Jesus’ arrival.

During this Christmas season, you can make that same decision. People around you likely will be more open to spiritual truth than at any other time of the year. No matter what disappointments you’ve faced this year, choose to be like Anna. Refocus your love on God and tell people about Jesus.

That’s a wise decision. 


As you end your time of learning about the three wise women of Christmas, take a few minutes to pray through this prayer and be reminded of what these three women have taught you. 

Father, in the middle of a strange Christmas season at the end of a long, difficult year, I thank you for the greatest gift of all, your son Jesus Christ. Thank you for sending him to pay for my sins. Thank you for your promise of eternal life to those who accept this gift. Holy Spirit, fill my heart with faith to trust in your promises like the three wise women of Christmas -- Elizabeth, Mary, and Anna -- have taught me. Help me to choose to trust your plan instead of being bitter. Help me to believe your Word instead of my fears. Help me to focus on your presence, not my disappointment, and talk to everyone about Jesus. Amen.

Talk It Over

-- Anna faced a major disappointment after losing her husband. How do you typically handle disappointments?

-- What’s one practical way you can focus on God’s presence rather than your disappointments this week?

-- What’s the biggest obstacle you face when it comes to regularly sharing the Good News about Jesus? 

-- Who can you share the Good News about Jesus with this week? 

Premium Resource: Daily Hope Prayer Journal

This devotional © 2020 by Rick Warren. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

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