How To Be Grateful During Tough Times
In her book, “The Hiding Place”, Corrie ten Boom tells about her time in the Nazi concentration camps. She and her sister were sent there as punishment for hiding Jewish people from the Nazis. Their bravery had saved the lives of hundreds of Jews, but now it was unclear if they themselves would survive.
They had been able to miraculously smuggle a Bible into the camp, and that morning they had read: “In everything give thanks, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thess. 5:18)
But later that morning, as they surveyed the overcrowded, foul-smelling and flea-infested barracks, Betsie said, “We can start right now to thank God for every single thing about this new barracks!” Corrie stared at her; then around at the dark, foul-aired room.
Corrie couldn’t think of anything to be thankful for in their current situation, but her sister reminded her that they were placed together, and that they even had a Bible with them.
Corrie 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 Corrie expectantly.
“Oh, all right,” Corrie reluctantly began. “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 for Corrie. “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, the two sisters gave thanks for fleas, despite Corrie’s belief that in this, Betsie was surely wrong.
Over the next several months an amazing thing happened. They found that the guards never entered their barracks. This meant that women were not assaulted, and that they were able to do the unthinkable, which was to hold open Bible studies and prayer meetings in the heart of a Nazi concentration camp. Through this, countless numbers of women came to faith in Christ.
Only at the end did they discover why the guards had left them alone and would not enter into their barracks. It was because of the fleas!
Many times throughout the Bible, God illustrates that He is more powerful than even our bleakest circumstances. Remember Joseph from the book of Genesis? We learn in Genesis 37 that he was sold into slavery by his jealous brothers, but as you read on, you see his story of redemption and how God took an act that was meant for evil and used it for His good (Genesis 50:20).
This Thanksgiving, give thanks to God for every good and perfect gift (James 1:17). If you or your loved ones are going through a difficult circumstance, I encourage you to continue to trust God. Realize that our Lord can use it and even make something good out of in the end.
As the Bible promises, “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28).