The only survivor of a shipwreck was washed up on a small, uninhabited island. He prayed feverishly for God to rescue him, and 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 him from the elements and to store his few possessions.
But then one day, after scavenging for food, he arrived home to find his little hut in flames, the smoke rolling up to the sky. The worst had happened ... everything was lost! He was stung with grief and anger. "God, how could you do this to me?" he cried.
Early the next day, however, he was awakened by the sound of a ship that was approaching the island. 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.
~ Author Unknown ~
It is so easy to get discouraged and frustrated when everything seems to go wrong. But we shouldn't lose heart, because God is always at work in our lives, even in the midst of pain and suffering.
Paul wrote, "I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want." (Philippians 4:12). Paul had confidence that good would come out of everything to those who love God, (Romans 8:28), so he learned to be thankful, not bitter, even during the times of his suffering.
Try to remember the next time your little hut is burning to the ground ... it may actually just be a smoke signal that summons the Grace of God.