I stared at her drawn face, remembering our years of ministry together. One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Good. For five seconds she had been free from pain. Most of the past three hours she had writhed in agony in spite of the morphine drip. The nurses and doctors said they were doing all they could, but it was clear even to my unprofessional evaluation that nothing was cutting the pain. I had held my breath during the last back spasm. Now I let it out slowly, afraid to disturb her brief rest. Maybe now the meds were working. I tried not to hope too much. There didn’t seem to be much more that she could take.

“Lord,” I inwardly shouted, “please get my wife out of this pain!” But her ongoing pain seemed to mock my prayers. I pictured my prayers bouncing off the white ceiling, mocking all that I believed; but in spite of my personal agony at seeing her face such pain, I knew God was listening.

The spasms gradually subsided. One day they stopped. I knew the Lord had answered my prayers and helped my wife; yet it had seemed for a few days that my prayers for her made the situation worse, not better. She did get better, recovering fully from her surgery. We never pray in vain. God hears us every time, and He answers our requests. We just have to trust Him to come through for us.

With Christmas quickly approaching, the pain we experience may take our thoughts from the festive traditions of the season. Perhaps you or a friend has lost family members this year. Maybe you lost your job and are unable to afford Christmas gifts for your family. You may even have to spend Christmas in the hospital because of your health. It’s possible your celebration will be dampened by the absence of a family member who has chosen to rebel against God. Talk to God about these difficult circumstances. He feels your pain, and He is listening. Trust Him, and He will come through for you.

*Excerpted from Dr. Scudder’s booklet, Discover the Power of Prayer. Copyright © 2006.

Devotional by Dr. James A. Scudder