Friday, September 22, 2006

Praise God for Fleas?

When we make these "Thankful Thursday" lists, often the first things that come to mind are circumstances-related. We're thankful for relationships, material blessings, little luxuries, etc. But Scripture calls us to "give thanks in ALL circumstances" (1 Thessalonians 5:18, emphasis added). How can we cultivate attitudes of gratitude when our circumstances stink--when we're lonely or our relationships are on the rocks? When our luxuries are stripped away? When we're so poor we don't even have the things we would consider "needs" and not "luxuries"?

This week at GEMS, that's what we talked about. We read a story about Corrie ten Boom with the above title: "Praise God for Fleas?" It's an inspiring example of thankfulness in awful circumstances.

Corrie and her sister, Betsie, were taken to a concentration camp in Europe because their family was caught hiding and helping Dutch Jews during WWII. The conditions at the camp were, of course, appalling. They shared a straw bed with nine other women; the work was backbreaking; the guards abused the prisoners. To add insult to injury, their sleeping quarters were plagued by fleas. Who wouldn't complain in that situation? How could they possibly give thanks?

During their imprisonment, Corrie and Betsie read a hidden Bible and were able to share with other women about Jesus. If they had been discovered with a Bible, it surely would have been confiscated and they would have been tortured; the guards treated the women horribly to begin with. Yet the guards stayed away from their barracks. Why? They were repelled by the fleas.

When she learned this, Corrie was able to say honestly, "Praise God for the fleas."

What about us? Will we choose to see what we can be thankful for in the midst of dire circumstances? We have the same Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead, living IN us (Romans 8:11). We face NO condemnation because we are united with Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). We serve the God who is sovereign and good and wise, who will never leave us or forsake us, who does not change. And He not only does He promise to use all things for our good--He promises that as bad as these circumstances are, they are NOT EVEN WORTH COMPARING with the glory that awaits us in heaven (Romans 8:18,28).

Though our circumstances may seem devastating, can we--will we--trust God enough to praise Him and thank Him in between scratching flea bites?


Kat Coble said...

That's one of my favourite anecdotes from Corrie Ten Boom.

The other is about her father refusing to lie to protect the Jews they were hiding. The Jews were taken in an arrest but miraculously those from the Ten Booms were able to escape and be rehidden elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

I never thought I would say I am thankful for the physical struggles Nate and I had while we were dating, but I see God using it for good (check out today's post!) and my perspective is changing. As much as I would still change that whole part of "us" if I could, I am thankful that I have this way to connect with people who are in the middle of the mess. :)