Fleas, Concentration Camps, & Giving Thanks

In her book, The Hiding Place, Corrie Ten Boom recalls the time she and her sister first entered the barracks at the Nazi prison camp they were assigned to during World War II. The space was cramped. The smells were foul. The beds were soiled. The groans of sick and dying filled the air. Even more, when they wearily crawled into their bunks to rest, they soon realized, the beds were infested with fleas.

In the midst of 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 didn’t see any good in most of their circumstance, they thanked God for everything around them; 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 meetings were never stopped by the 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 sovereign God who is graciously working in all circumstances, even if they’re infested with fleas.

About Dana Dill

I'm a Christian, husband, daddy, pastor, professor, and hope to be a friend to pilgrims on their way home.
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