We were aware that we would encounter colder weather in Cape Breton. We were, after all, leaving in September, but no problem! Our new trailer came equipped with a propane-operated furnace. As an additional precautionary measure, I also wrapped an extra blanket in a plastic bag and stowed it in a storage compartment under the bed.

As anticipated, the nights were cool, and we used the furnace before going to bed and first thing in the morning. There was that one night, however, where "cool" was an understatement, and before we could get back to our trailer that night, the chill had permeated every part of our little home on wheels.

Unfortunately, when I pushed the furnace "on" button, nothing happened. Our propane tank was completely empty...

It was nearly midnight, and because we didn't know how far or where we would have to go to refill our tank, we decided to huddle under coats, mitts and blankets instead; and with this in mind, I crawled under the bed to pull out that extra blanket.

But wait...The bag it was wrapped in was...Sopping wet...And heavy...Far heavier than it should have been...What???

If there was any good news in the story, it was that the wool blanket had acted like a sponge, which is why the leak in the trailer plumbing took us so completely by surprise. This didn't help our temperature dilemma, however, and we'll just say it was a long, cold night...

The next morning found us on the hunt for the source of the leak. After searching for an hour, we discovered that some "helpful" camper had closed our outside drain, and the water from the sink had simply backed up and flooded the storage compartment. After mopping up the excess water, we then set out to "fix" the problem of no propane, only to discover that the nearest 24-hour propane-filling station was exactly 3 kilometers down the road...

Wait! Why did we have to run out of propane on the coldest night of the trip? Why weren't we aware that we could refill our tank at any time of day or night, just three minutes down the road? Why God, why...?

Yes, it was a tempting question to ask. We could have also asked "why" the engine light on our new tow vehicle came on just 50 kilometers after leaving home, and "why" it rained...the only truly rainy day...just when we were scheduled to hike the last of the Highland's National Park trails. We could also ask "why" our first camp was one of those open affairs where we felt squashed between hundreds of rigs that were three and four times our size, and "why"...

Well the list could go on, but as I contemplated this, God began placing the answers to the "why" questions on my heart: Why had it rained on our trail? Because God knew that we were coming into a town that had a service shop for our car. The extra time we had due to not being able to hike the trail allowed us to have the time to service the vehicle. Why was our first camp so unromantic? Because God knew there was a major windstorm on the way. He knew that our little 12 foot fold-down trailer would not have been able to ride out the storm without toppling over. Those huge rigs provided us shelter from the storm. And finally, why did our propane tank run out on the coldest night of the trip? Because God knew about the leak when we didn't, and He knew that the cold would be the only thing that would drive us to go after that blanket!

Life is full of frustrations. Yours may be a lot more serious than the petty inconveniences I've mentioned above; nonetheless, sometimes the answer to the "why" question is that God is actually using what we feel is a very negative set of circumstances to "protect" us from something worse. Sometimes He allows these hard times to "prepare" us for even harder times to come, and sometimes He uses the problems to reveal other problems that could potentially have far worse outcomes.

Remember, we don't go through hard times alone. God is there: "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me." (Ps. 23:4 ESV).

His love is still our umbrella. He is still our shelter in the time of storm: "O my Strength, I will sing praises to you, for you, O God, are my fortress, the God who shows me steadfast love." (Ps. 59:17 ESV).

And perhaps, rather than continually asking "why", we should instead begin to praise Him: "I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth." (Ps. 34:1 ESV).

Let's determine to bless the Lord, especially in the hard times, for what He is busy doing in the background: "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." (Rom. 8:28 ESV).

Propane tank dry on the coldest night of the trip? Don't despair. Instead thank God for using this to reveal the leak in the trailer's plumbing!

Bless the Lord!

In His love,
Lyn

Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author -- "Aboard God's Train -- A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer", Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.

(To access the entire "Lessons From Cape Breton" mini-series, please click here.)