In 1944 two sisters in their fifties were interred in the Nazi concentration camp at Ravensbruk, Germany. They were accused of the heinous crime of using their home to hide Jews from the prowling Gestapo.
They existed in a universe more horrible than any of us can imagine. They were deprived of food and sleep. Their lives were constantly in danger. They, along with a number of other captives, lived in a dormitory infested with fleas.
In this universe, the two sisters, Betsie and Corrie, read their smuggled Bible in secret. They prayed that the guards that haunted their prison would not find it. The words God spoke to them through the contraband pages were their only source of nourishment in that dark and awful camp. Corrie and Betsie could not imagine surviving without the light the little book radiated in their dark circumstances.
Betsie, older, wiser, told her sister they needed to thank God for the fleas. Corrie thought the idea absurd. The bugs were thick enough to breathe in and inflicted exposed skin to millions of itchy bites. Surely when the apostle Paul said “in everything give thanks” he didn’t mean everything. Corrie couldn’t do it. There was no way she would thank God for this particular form of torture.
But Betsie eventually convinced her, and together, Bestsie and a reluctant Corrie began to thank God for the fleas. They read from their Bible and thanked God for the insects that hovered around them, buzzing in their ears and nesting in their threadbare blankets.
It wasn’t until later that they discovered why their little Bible remained safely hidden under a wafer thin mattress.
The guards refused to enter the building Corrie and her sister were housed in.
Because of the fleas.
As we come down from the sugar high of Halloween and careen toward Christmas, we run into the speed
bump that happens on the fourth Thursday of November. We pause for some turkey, football and to count our blessings on Thanksgiving.
Abraham Lincoln made an official holiday commemorating the first Thanksgiving as a government sanctioned day of prayer. Indeed, we should return thanks to God for his great and bountiful blessings this time of year. But thankfulness is not something we should do. It is something we should live.
Complaining comes naturally. Often our discontent is justifiable. Whether it’s car trouble, potty training, busted pipes or fleas, yucky stuff happens. But God works through yucky stuff too. God asks that we “present our requests with thanksgiving…And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
Thankfulness alters our perspective of reality. Things that seem unimaginably awful start looking a whole lot more like blessings when we thank God in everything.
Corrie Tem Boom’s story is told in total in the book The Hiding Place. A remarkable woman with stalwart faith, Corrie lived a long and amazing life against all odds. In closing, I’d like you to take a moment to read a poem she wrote about God’s sovereignty in all the mess of life.
My life is but a weaving
Between my God and me.
I cannot choose the colors
He weaveth steadily.
Oft’ times He weaveth sorrow;
And I in foolish pride
Forget He sees the upper
And I the underside.
Not ‘til the loom is silent
And the shuttles cease to fly
Will God unroll the canvas
And reveal the reason why.
The dark threads are as needful
In the weaver’s skillful hand
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned
He knows, He loves, He cares;
Nothing this truth can dim.
He gives the very best to those
Who leave the choice to Him
Posted by Andrea