You might have heard this verse many times: “We know that in everything God works for the good of those who love him.” (Romans 8:28) I understood it in a new way after reading “The Hiding Place” by Corrie ten Boom.
She was a Christian evangelist who hid Jews during the Holocaust and was imprisoned because of it. When Corrie and her sister, Betsie, entered one of the filthy prisons infested with fleas, both starving, they cried out to the Lord.
As they lay side-by-side on a bunk with several other women, 1 Thessalonians 5 came to Betsie: “Give thanks in all circumstances.” She turned to Corrie and shared these words.
Corrie asked what on earth they could give thanks for. Betsie said that they were actually able to be together in prison and that their Bible miraculously had not been confiscated.
Then, Betsie prayed, “And thank you, Lord, for the fleas.” Corrie told her sister that she could never give thanks for fleas, but Betsie told her that it is God’s will to give thanks in all circumstances. So, while lying on their flea- and lice-infested straw beds, they gave thanks for the fleas.
After some time, they noticed that the soldiers rarely came into the barracks where they slept. Betsie and Corrie did not know why, but it allowed them to share the light of Jesus to other women for hours during such a dark time.
One day, Betsie asked a supervisor to come to the barracks. Betsie said to Corrie, “'[The supervisor] wouldn’t step through the door and neither would the guards. You know why?’
Betsie could not keep the triumph from her voice: ‘Because of the fleas!’ That’s what she said, ‘That place is crawling with fleas!’”
Corrie wrote, “My mind rushed back to our first hour in this place. I remembered her thanks to God for creatures I could see no use for.” Hours of ministering, changing lives, and offering hope in a dark time, all came because of the presence of fleas.
What is the hard thing in your life that God can use for good?
To help someone. To bring comfort to someone. To point someone to the light of the Lord, and to finding hope in Him.
This daily shift of giving thanks always, can be hard and it takes discipline. But when we change our outlook, it moves our eyes and hearts upon things eternal and puts God’s purposes over ours.
Corrie writes, “Side by side, in the sanctuary of God’s fleas, Betsie and I ministered the Word of God to all in the room. We sat by death beds that became doorways of heaven. We watched women who had lost everything grow rich in hope.”
Whatever is happening in your life, be encouraged by these words that relate to us even now:
“In everything God works for the good of those who love him.” Romans 8:28
May we pour out thanks to the Lord this Thanksgiving, whether we’re in a seamless season or a difficult one, knowing the Lord is right there with you, walking along with you, and loving you always.
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18