Praise for the Fleas
Praise for the Fleas
See that no one pays back evil for evil, but always try to do good to each other and to all people. Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.
The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom is the well-known autobiographical story of a strong Christian family, the ten Booms, who aid the Jews when the Nazis invade the Netherlands in 1942. Corrie ten Boom and her sister, Betsie, are eventually captured and imprisoned at Ravensbrück, a notorious women’s concentration camp. The conditions there are hellish; the woman’s bunk to which they are assigned is crawling with fleas. Corrie wonders how they will survive in such a place, and Betsie urges her to pray and to thank God for everything in these new barracks, including the fleas.
This seems impossible to Corrie – praise God for FLEAS? – but Betsie quotes the above verse:
“Be thankful in all circumstances. It doesn’t say, ‘In pleasant circumstances.’ Fleas are a part of this place that God has given us” (ten Boom 210). And so, the sisters pray, giving thanks for the fleas that God has provided.
In the coming weeks, the sisters realize that despite the camp being heavily patrolled, the guards never enter their barracks. They are able to use this space for congregation, holding clandestine worship services and spreading the hope of Jesus to hundreds of the other female prisoners. At first they are puzzled, but later come to realize that the guards avoid their particular barracks for one reason and one reason alone: it was crawling with fleas.
This is undoubtably a time of discomfort and unrest in our nation. We are far from prisoners in a German concentration camp and our homes are not crawling with wingless insects, but like Corrie, many of us may be struggling to give thanks for the current circumstances.
But fortunately, we are the children of a God who understood that we would struggle, and thus He made His directions very clear: Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.
Father God, let us continually remember to be thankful for all of Your provisions and blessings, even the ones that we don’t yet fully recognize as such. Help us to be good to one another, to find joy, and to remember to pray unceasingly. Let us turn to your Word when we feel lost or discouraged and let us remember that Your viewpoint is the only one that matters.
As Corrie ten Boom herself wrote: “God’s viewpoint is sometimes different from ours – so different that we could not even guess at it unless He had given us a Book which tells us things” (ten Boom 173).
Let us trust His Word above all else in these uncertain times. And let us give God praise for everything He has given us. Even the fleas.
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