In her book, The Hiding Place, Corrie Ten Boom recalls when she and her sister first entered the barracks at the Nazi prison camp they were assigned to during World War II. The room was cramped, the smells were foul, the beds were soiled, and groans of the sick and dying filled the air. To top it all off, when they wearily crawled into their bunk to rest, they soon realized, the beds were infested with fleas.
In their bewilderment, Betsie, Corrie’s sister, remembered a scripture they had read earlier that day: “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). She exclaimed, “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 new barracks!” So, though they hadn’t seen any good in most of their circumstances, they thanked God for everything; including the fleas.
Throughout their time at the camp, the sisters led Bible studies where many women came to know and love Jesus as their Savior. They always marveled that their worship meetings, a punishable crime at the camp, were never stopped by the Nazi prison guards. In fact, the guards never once entered the barracks during Bible study. Later, Betsie found out why and told Corrie: the guards never entered the barracks because of the fleas. God protected them and their ministry with His fleas. When she heard the news from Betsie, Corrie wrote, “My mind rushed back to our first hour in this place. I remembered Betsie’s bowed head and I remembered her thanks to God for creatures I could see no use for.”
We can give thanks in all circumstances because we have a God who is graciously working in all circumstances, even if they’re infested with fleas.