Thankful For Fleas!

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

One of my heroes of the faith is Corrie Ten Boom.

During World War II, a well-dressed lady entered the watch shop owned by Corrie’s father. Informing them that she was a Jew, Corrie’s father immediately offered to help the woman. That began an odyssey where an elderly watchmaker and his two daughters – Betsy and Corrie – helped save over 800 Jews during the war.

In February of 1944, the Gestapo raided the watch shop arresting Corrie along with her sister and father. Corrie’s dad died in prison 10 days later.

Corrie and her sister Betsy were imprisoned in the Ravensbruck concentration camp together. Corrie writes later about their first few hours in the prison:

The bedding was soiled and rancid, and we struggled against nausea that swept over us. When we laid back on the straw-covered platform that was to be our bed, something pinched my leg. “Fleas!” I cried. “Betsie, the place is swarming with them! How can we live in such a place?”

With fleas swarming over them, Betsy began praying that God would show them how to endure. Almost instantly, Betsy lifted her head and said:

“Corrie!” she said excitedly. “He’s given us the 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 these new barracks!”

Corrie then asked her sister, “What are we going to be thankful for in this place?” Betsy replied, “Well, we are together, and look what you hold in your hand. A Bible. They didn’t inspect us when we entered this place.”

Betsy then said, The Bible says give thanks in all circumstances; it doesn’t say give thanks in pleasant circumstances.

They were assigned to a shop that knitted socks for German soldiers. They took the Bible with them every day and since they were very fast with their knitting, they had time to read it aloud for hours.

Hundreds of prisoners began to follow Jesus.

They wondered why the guards never came in to discover the Bible reading and stop it. Then one day the women in the knitting shop needed to discuss sizes with the shop’s supervisor, who always stayed in another building.

Corrie writes:

But she wouldn’t. She wouldn’t step through the door, and neither would the other guards. And do you know why? Because of the fleas. They told us the place is crawling with them!

In all things, not just in pleasant circumstances.

I admit that I do much better in good times. I’ve been learning to give thanks in difficult situations – and the only way has been for me to make a list of what I appreciate.

First, together. Second, a Bible. And third, the time to read it to hundreds of those who need to follow Jesus.

I know it’s not my list – it’s Corrie and Betsy’s list.

If they can find a few things for which to be thankful in a Nazi concentration camp, I can find a few things – always – for thanksgiving. This year on Thanksgiving Day, I’m going to write a list of five things and put it in my Bible.

I will pull it out weekly to review and give thanks. If you send me your list, I will send you mine.

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