I noticed as I walked down the hallway that the carpet was damp. I asked Kathy, who was in taking a bath, if she had walked down the hall with wet feet. When she replied, “No, why?” I knew we had a leaky hot water tank that is enclosed in a cabinet next to the hall. I flipped the breaker to the tank, and removed the cabinet to examine the tank. Sure enough, it was leaking, so I tried to shut off the valve on the cold water input, but it wouldn’t shut off. I had to turn off the water pump and go down in the crawl space and close the valve coming in from the well. We hooked up a garden hose to drain the tank outside. The carpet was pretty wet and would need to be dried out with heat and fans, but I thought of what could have happened if we hadn’t been home. We had recently returned from 10 days in Oregon!
The next morning I called my neighbor to help me get and install a new tank. We also had to replace the shut-off valve on the cold water input line. After a couple trips to the plumbing store for parts, we had everything hooked up again and waited to turn the water on until after we ate lunch, giving the glued pipes a chance to dry. After lunch we turned on the water and had one drip so had to shut off the water again and cut the pipe apart to put in a new fitting and glue it again. All seemed okay and the neighbor left. We turned the pump on and went outside for a bit, and then Kathy was vacuuming the hallway by the tank and I was walking by when the joint in the cold water input line came apart and water shot across the hall, hitting me squarely. Kathy reached up and quickly shut off our newly installed valve. But quite a bit of water also hit the carpet which was already quite damp. But, Praise the Lord, we had come back inside and were right there when the pipe came loose. There was some tension on the water line and I had to go down in the crawl space and install a pipe strap to ease the tension before I glued it again. This time it held!
We live in a world that is under the curse of sin, as evidenced by the Second Law of Thermodynamics (the “law of increasing entropy”) which says everything is wearing out, winding down, becoming more randomized and less complex. Our clothes wear out, our bodies age and ultimately die, metal rusts, wood rots, hot water tanks leak! And none of us—Christians included—-is exempt from this law which resulted from original sin in the Garden. But, while we will continue to face the results of the curse God placed upon the earth (Gen. 3), God promises that He will always be with us no matter what and often we can see how He is at work in the details of our lives in times of adversity and trial. Until God removes the curse from the earth, there will continue to be leaky hot water tanks and a whole list of other things that fail, including our health, but one thing is sure—God will be there helping us through these times. Isaiah records God’s words saying: “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched. Nor will the flame burn you. For I am the LORD your God…you are precious in My sight…and I love you.” While God’s promise is to Israel in Isa. 43:2, throughout Scripture He promises to be with us and though we may go through deep-water experiences and fiery trials of adversity, He will be there and will provide the support we need to make it through. When He called Moses to lead the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt, He said to the hesitant Moses, “Certainly I will be with you” (Ex. 3:12). The Israelites faced much adversity as they made their 40-year journey to the land God promised, but God was always there providing for them. As they neared the land, Moses gave the people this challenge: “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them (the people in Canaan) for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you…the LORD is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear, or be dismayed” (Dt. 31:6,8). When He selected Joshua to lead the people into the land of Canaan, He repeated the promise to them, saying: “Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go” (Josh. 1:9).
You will recall that when the prophet Elijah prayed that God would withhold the rain, there was a drought for 3 years, and Elijah was not exempt from the effects, but God sent him to the brook Cherith, where He had water and God sent ravens morning and evening with bread and meat to feed him (I Kgs. 17:1-7). When the brook dried up, God sent Elijah to Zarephath where God miraculously multiplied the widow’s handful of flour and little jar of oil to feed them during the remainder of the drought (vv. 8-16).
God chose Habakkuk to warn Judah of the coming invasion by the Babylonians whom God would use to cleanse His people of their wicked ways. Habakkuk asked God, “How in the name of holiness can you use a nation even more corrupt than Judah to judge them?” (Hab. 1:12-17). When God patiently answered the prophet’s question (Hab. 2), Habakkuk responded in prayer and praise for the person, power and purpose of God (Hab. 3). Note his closing words:“Though the fig tree should not blossom, and there be no fruit on the vines, though the yield of the olive should fail, and the fields produce no food, though the flock should be cut off from the fold, and there be no cattle in the stalls, yet I will exult in the LORD, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. The LORD GOD is my strength, and He has made my feet like hinds’ feet, and makes me walk on my high places” (Hab. 3:17-19).
Whatever else may fail, God “will never leave you, nor forsake you” (Heb. 13:5). Since we still have the LORD, we can always “rejoice in the God my salvation” (Hab. 3:18). Since God is with us always, we can often see His hand working out the details for us as He helps us through our trials, whether it is simply a leaky hot water tank, or something far more serious such as failing health, or loss of employment, or the death of a friend or loved one. That’s why we are able to obey the command of I Thes. 5:18: “In everything give thanks, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” It is because God is there with us and will provide the support we need and grow us through it.
When we went to the plumbing store to pay our bill—someone had already paid $200 of the bill—Praise the Lord!