Even the fleas!

I was really blessed recently in reading The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom, the Dutch woman who hid Jews in WWII, and had great faith despite being sent to a concentration camp. One of the bits that inspired and challenged me is recorded below:

"That's it Corrie! That's His answer. 'Give thanks in all circumstances'! That's what we can do. We can start right now to thank God for every single thing about this barracks!"

I stared at her, then around me at the dark, foul-aired room. "Such as?" I said.

"Such as being assigned here together."

I bit my lip. "Oh yes, Lord Jesus!"

"Such as what you're holding in your hands."

I looked down at the Bible. "Yes! Thank you, dear Lord, that there was no inspection when we entered here! Thank you for all the women here in this room, who will meet You in these pages. "

"Yes," said Betsie, "Thank you for the very crowding here. Since we're packed so close, that many more will hear!" She looked at me expectantly. "Corrie!" she prodded.

"Oh, all right. Thank you for the jammed, crammed, stuffed, packed, suffocating crowds."

"Thank you", Betsie went on serenely, "for the fleas and for - "

The fleas! This was too much. "Betsie, there's no way even God can make me grateful for a flea!"

"'Give thanks in all circumstances.'" she quoted. "It doesn't say 'in pleasant circumstances'. Fleas are part of this place where God has put us. "

And so we stood between piers of bunks and gave thanks for fleas. But this time I was sure Betsie was wrong...

[Betsie and Corrie led many women to Christ at that concentration camp, and they were never hindered in their gospel work by any of the guards, but were totally free to share their faith openly.]

...Betsie was waiting for me, as always so that we could wait through the food line together. Her eyes were twinkling.

"You're looking extraordinarily pleased with yourself." I told her.

"You know we've never understood why we have had so much freedom in the big room," she said, "Well - I've found out." That afternoon, she said, there'd been confusion in her knitting group about sock sizes, and they'd asked the supervisor to come and settle it. "But she wouldn't. She wouldn't step through the door and neither would the guards. And you know why?" Betsie could not keep the triumph from her voice: "Because of the fleas! That's what she said, 'That place is crawling with fleas!'"

My mind rushed back to our first hour in this place. I remembered Betsie's bowed head, remembered her thanks to God for creatures I could see no use for.

(from The Hiding Place p.185, p.195)

Elspeth McLachlan

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