The diagnosis was grim: stage three ovarian cancer. My friend, Joyce, had no forewarning of a serious illness. Her regular check-ups brought no indication of a problem, and now she faced a major surgery and an uncertain road toward what we all hoped would be recovery.

In Pain and in Prayer

Within a matter of days, surgery was scheduled, and Joyce and her husband, Michael, called for a group of friends and elders from church to pray for them. We gathered with hearts sobered by the frailty of life and tender with gratitude for Michael and Joyce. We were serious—knowing the gravity of the prognosis—but hopeful that God would be pleased to grant healing and restoration.

Strong winds had blown all day, and when we met at Michael and Joyce’s condo, their electricity had gone out because of the storm. The dim, overcast evening left the home in shadows. With a lone camping lantern on the table, our group of fifteen or so crowded into the living room.

Pastors led us with songs of worship and praise. We read Scripture passages. We formed a prayer huddle, and men and women prayed for Michael and Joyce. We acknowledged their pain, asked for healing, expressed trust that God would do what was best for His glory, thanked Jesus for His power over sin and death, and asked for strength and peace in the midst of each moment in the days to come.

It was good to meet together, to grieve together, to bring the burden to God together. We left the gathering with faith, not knowing what the outcome would be for Joyce, but trusting that God would move to work all things together for good.

Powerless to Change, but Not to Trust

As I drove home and continued to pray, I thought of the irony of our lack of electricity. It highlighted our weaknesses. Sometimes things happen that we cannot change, and we are unable to avoid the unexpected hurdles of life.

Joyce was facing such a hurdle. She was powerless to alter the outcome of her cancer. Yet her faith was anchored in the eternal God, whose “power” never goes out. What a comfort to recall that He is the same yesterday, today, and forever, with just as much awe-inspiring, life-giving power as when He created the universe. When we left the meeting, we knew that God’s unmeasured, unlimited, unending power—which spoke the world into existence—was available to sustain Michael and Joyce through this trial, whatever the outcome.

We could join with the psalmist in proclaiming, “My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:2). We could echo his confident trust in God almighty: “He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepth thee will not slumber. Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is thy keeper: the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand. The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul.” (Psalm 121:3–7)

God’s Promises Kept

In Scripture, we find many invitations to trust God’s sustaining strength in the midst of life’s hardships:

“Why sayest thou, O Jacob, and speakest, O Israel, My way is hid from the Lord, and my judgment is passed over from my God? Hast thou not known? Hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? There is no searching of his understanding. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: but they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength: they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:27–31)