The only survivor of a shipwreck was washed up on a small, uninhabited island. He prayed feverishly for someone 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 bad weather, 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 stunned with grief and anger. “Lord, how could you do this to me?” he cried.
Early next morning, 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 to his rescuers.
“We saw your smoke signal,” they replied.
It is easy to get discouraged when things are going bad. But don’t lose hope even in the midst of pain and suffering. Remember, next time your little hut is burning to the ground – it may be just a smoke signal that summons the grace to you.