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Giving Thanks Even for Fleas {Corrie ten Boom}

Five lessons to remember when we find ourselves in hard and difficult circumstances…

Can we ever be too thankful? I think not, and I believe Scripture backs me up. Yet life is often hard, and it becomes so easy to fall into the habit of fretting, complaining, or even despair. So let’s learn a lesson on giving thanks from Corrie ten Boom

Learning to give thanks in all things

Perhaps you already know of the ten Boom sisters, Corrie and Betsy. But in any case, let me introduce these two unmarried middle-aged sisters who were incarcerated in the Ravensbrück concentration camp during WWII for the ‘crime’ of hiding Jews from Nazi extermination.

Held in such harsh and inhumane conditions that only their long years of faith and walking with God could help them endure. And which, in a certain sense, enabled them to even prosper. Especially the elder sister Betsy, with her amazing childlike faith and trust.

And even after being herded into filthy flea-infested barracks.

“How can we live in such a place?” the younger Corrie wailed. To which Betsy calmly replied, “Show us. Show us how.” And the astonished Corrie realized her sister was praying, asking God to show them a way. “Corrie,” she then urged, “read again that chapter we read this morning!”

“Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus toward you.”

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 WEB

“That’s it! That’s the answer!” Betsy cried out. “Let’s start by thanking God for every single thing about this barracks!” But poor Corrie’s faith wasn’t quite up to that. And looking about the grimy, foul-smelling room she inquired skeptically, “Such as?”

So Betsy prayed, thanking God for his blessings to them – even in that seemingly God-forsaken place.

“Thank you, Lord, that we’re here together,” she prayed. And Corrie bit her lip.
“And that you enabled us to smuggle the New Testament in,” she added.
“And that because of the overcrowding here so many will be able to hear the word!”

“Oh yes, Lord, thank you!” Corrie cried. And with a remorseful, repentant heart, repeated her sister’s praises as they prayed aloud together.

Thanking God for fleas

And then Betsy went on to thank the Lord, even for the fleas. But that was too much for Corrie. “The fleas? No Betsy, not even God could make me grateful for fleas!”

“Give thanks in everything and in all circumstances,” Betsy reminded her. So Corrie thanked God for the fleas, though convinced her sister had it all wrong.

Only weeks later did she learn how right Betsy was, once again. For those fleas kept the guards from entering the barracks, granting them free reign to read the Bible without discovery!’

Give thanks even for fleas?

We all face difficult circumstances, though perhaps none as overwhelming as those the ten Boom family faced. And it would be easy to give in to worry and despair. Like Corrie nearly did, and might have, had it not been for Betsy’s great trust and faith.

Look for God’s hand

So let’s remember, like Betsy, to always look for God’s hand in our lives, and remember that:

  1. God’s keeping power will keep us safe even in life’s greatest storms.
  2. God is an everlasting help in the hardest of times.
  3. God’s light can outshine even the darkest of places.
  4. He wants us to give thanks in all things and in every circumstance.
  5. There is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still.

There is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still. – Corrie ten Boom

Betsy found at least 3 things for which to thank God – even in the depravity of Ravensbrück. My circumstances are not nearly as bleak as theirs, and likely yours aren’t either.

So when all seems bleak, let’s work at remembering that God is always with us, working things out according to his plan. And to thank him in all circumstances – even like flea-ridden places! Cultivate a heart of thanksgiving, and look for God’s hand in your life at all times!

Images: Woman in field | Thankful woman | Corrie ten Boom.

12 replies on “Giving Thanks Even for Fleas {Corrie ten Boom}”

Corrie’s book The Hiding Place provided memorable insight and perspective for me when I was still in my 20s. Her lessons still play in my mind from time to time, even four+ decades later. The story of the fleas is one of them. You are so right, Sheila, our circumstances don’t begin to compare to hers and Betsy’s. How dare I complain?!

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Thanks for sharing this again, Sheila. We’re in a time when thanksgiving must be a choice because chaos and sadness fill life. But God. He is, was, and will always be, He is the Light in the dark, the Hope in the chaos, the Promise of life everlasting, This is so timely. I deeply appreciate it.

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That’s so true, Dayle. We are surrounded by so much despair, negativity, anger, finger-pointing, and worry. Like you said, But God. I am so grateful that he is all that you said and more. But light always shines brighter in the dark, and his light will shine brightest in the darkest gloom!

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Thank you T.R. And I agree that the ten Boom family and The Hiding Place are great sources of comfort. Another of my favorite Corrie books is “In My Father’s House.” It really brings out what a special and unique family they were. A family worth aspiring to!

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An awesome reminder Sheila! It is all about perspective. Having an eternal view helps give thanks for everything, including what may look to be bad. This encourages me to look for blessings not the problems. Thank you for sharing.

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Praise the Lord! I’m so blessed that the Lord encouraged you through this post. I know it is hard sometimes to find the hidden blessings – but they are always there. And yes, thankfully, the Lord is always with us. He is so good and ever faithful!

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Wonderful, timely reminder that we are to give thanks always. So easy to do during the good times,yet so challenging when faced with life’s uncertainties. Through it all God is faithful!

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