BY SISTER LAURETTA LEIPZIG
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 for the elements and to store his few possessions. Then one day, after scavenging for food, he arrived home to find his little hut in flames, but smoke rolling up to the sky. The worst had happened; everything was lost! He was stunned 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.
It is easy to get discouraged when things are going badly. But we shouldn’t lose heart, because God is at work in our lives even in the midst of pain and suffering. We know that God works in mysterious ways that evade our understanding, but he always intends the best for us and our lives. How often have we heard God’s words that remind us of this proclaimed promise in Scripture? Many times! The problem is that they have become so familiar that we fail to give them the attention they deserve. The islander in trouble didn’t deliberately send his petition to God, but God recognized his need and heard and acted anyway. Someone once said, “When you are down to nothing, then God is up to something.” We know that God was watching the man and might have been saying one of the following:
“I know the plans that I have for you,”
“My grace is sufficient.”
“I will supply all your needs.”
“Cast all your cares on me.”
“I will never leave or forsake you.”
“All things are possible.”
Let us hear God’s words when we seem to be stranded on our own individual “island” of pain, worry or suffering.” Isaiah told his people, “When the time is right, God will make it happen.” God knows our concerns and can provide what we need without our asking. But that could pose a problem. The more God gives without asking, the more we take him for granted or even credit ourselves for all the good we have received. So, although we are confident that God knows what we need and that God can meet those needs without our prayers, God wants to hear our prayer. Jesus told us “Ask and you shall receive.” So, we trust that God will see our “smoke signals” and also hear our prayers when we confidently believe that in all situations God can and will take care of us in our need. God will be there to send us his support, hope and strength.