Sunday, January 1, 2012

Thankful For Fleas

Excerpt from The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom:

Life in Ravensbruck took place on two separate levels, mutually impossible. One, the observable, external life, grew every day more horrible. The other, the life we lived with God, grew daily better, truth upon truth, glory upon glory. Sometimes I would slip the Bible from its little (sack) with hands that shook, so mysterious had it become to me. It was new; it had just been written. I marveled sometimes that the ink was dry...I had read a thousand times the story of Jesus' arrest--how soldiers had slapped Him, laughed at Him, flogged Him. Now such happenings had faces and voices. The move to permanent quarters came the second week in October. We were marched, ten abreast, along the wide cinder avenue...Several times the column halted while numbers were read out--names were never used at Ravensbruck. At last Betsie's and mine were called...We stepped out of line with a dozen or so others and stared at the long gray front of Barracks 28. "Fleas!" I cried. "Betsie, the place is swarming with them!" We scrambled across the intervening platforms, heads low to avoid another bump, dropped down to the aisle and hedged our way to a patch of light. "Here! And here another one!" I wailed. 'Betsie, how can we live in such a place!' "Show us. Show us how." It was said so matter of factly it took me a second to realize she was praying. More and more the distinction between prayer and the rest of life seemed to be vanishing for Betsie. "Corrie!" she said excitedly. "He's given us the answer! Before we asked, as He always does! In the Bible this morning. Where was it? Read that part again!" I glanced down the long dim aisle to make sure no guard was in sight, then drew the Bible from its pouch. "It was in First Thessalonians," I said. We were on our third complete reading of the New Testament since leaving Scheveningen. In the feeble light I turned the pages. "Here it is: Comfort the frightened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. See that none of you repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all..." It seemed written expressly to Ravensbruck. "Go on," said Betsie. "That wasn't all." "Oh yes:...Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus." "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!" 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 these 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 tiers of bunks and gave thanks for fleas. But this time I was sure Betsie was wrong......

I watched this movie as a little girl and read the book till the pages were falling out. I promised myself that I would name my little girl, Corrie, after the brave woman who hid young and old in her house with her family during the hellish era of the Holocaust. These heroes ended up being captured and walked through unearthly terror. Her sister, Betsie, later told Corrie that she understood why the fleas were such a blessing. The guards refused to step foot in the barracks as long as the fleas were rampant; this allowed the Word to be shared with the women, spreading light in an evil place. Corrie was set free, just before the women she was with were taken to the gas chambers. Her father and Betsie died in the camps. I encourage you to read this story. I promise you will be changed.

Years have passed since the tattered pages have been held in my hands. I still see the scene from the movie, playing over and over like a broken movie reel. So many situations, I have felt the bites of fleas. I have felt the crawling of annoyances and hurts, trying to turn my attention away from the Father and instead to a hopeless situation.

In this New Year, I want to be thankful for my fleas. I can't see the whole picture, nor can I predict what good will come from any of this.

But one thing is certain: God's goodness far outweighs the best of my best. In fact, there is no comparison; God wants more than just good for you. He wants the BEST for you.

God's best is not measured in the number of zeros in your paycheck. It is not measured by your annual job evaluations. It is not measured by the absence of suffering or pain.

No, we live in a broken and hurting world, but His faithfulness is never void. The fleas may abound, but we must give thanks in all circumstances.

Will you join me this year in cushioning our lives with thanksgiving? What fleas are you thankful for?

Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:18

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