Recently, my mother sent me a wonderful story that perfectly illustrates this truth. I decided to post it today as an encouragement to a few individuals whom I know which are going through particularly difficult stretches in their lives at this time. It may speak to you as well. I hope so.
The story is told of the only survivor of a shipwreck that found himself washed up on a small, uninhabited island. He prayed feverishly for God to rescue him. Every day, he scanned the horizon for help, but none seemed forthcoming.
Exhausted, he eventually managed to build a little hut out of driftwood to protect himself from the elements, and to store his few possessions. One day, after being out looking for food, he arrived home to find his little hut in flames, with smoke rolling up to the sky.
He was stunned with disbelief, grief, and anger. He felt the worst had happened, and that everything was now utterly lost. As a result, he cried out in anguish to 'God, “How could you do this to me?!?'
Early the next day, however, he was awakened by the sound of a ship approaching the island. He soon discovered to his absolute delight that it had come to rescue him! 'How did you know I was here?' asked the weary man of his rescuers. 'We saw your smoke signal!' they replied.
There is, of course, a moral in this story. It is so easy to get discouraged when things are going bad. But we should never lose heart. God is at work in our lives; even when, in the midst of our distress and suffering, we cannot sense His presence.
So, my friend, remember this little story the next time your own hut seems to be burning to the ground. Such an experience, while painful in itself, may just be the very smoke signal that summons the grace of God into your life!