I was listening to our local K-Love radio station on my way into the church office this morning, and I was uplifted by a segment on gratitude. I mean, we all know the importance of gratitude, but this particular segment really touched my heart.
The DJ brought up the story of Corrie ten Boom and her sister, Betsie, and their gratitude for fleas. I know what you're thinking. How can anyone be thankful for fleas? Well, if you know about the ten Boom family, you know they were arrested (And imprisoned in concentration camps) for hiding many Jewish people from the Nazis during the Holocaust of World War II. On one occasion during their imprisonment, Corrie and Betsy were transferred to a flea-infested barracks. It was a horrible living situation for the two sisters, but Betsie encouraged Corrie with 1 Thessalonians 5:18, which they had read together that same morning: "Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." The two sisters started thanking God for everything in their new dormitory: that they were able to remain together, that they had a Bible, and that they had an opportunity to share God's Word with the rest of the women in their barracks. Corrie was reluctant, but they even thanked God for the fleas.
During their time there, the ten Boom sisters held secret Bible studies and worship services in the back of their barracks. As the group grew in numbers, they became afraid that they would attract the attention of the guards patrolling the camp. And yet, their particular dormitory had almost no supervision at all. They couldn't understand why.
One day, Betsie overheard a conversation between guards and discovered why they never entered their barracks. It was because of the fleas! The guards knew that particular dormitory was crawling with fleas, so they never stepped inside. As Betsie shared her discovery with her sister, Corrie's mind recalled their first night in their flea-invested quarters and her reluctance to thank God for the fleas. And yet, it was precisely because of the fleas that they enjoyed the freedoms they had to worship God and to be encouraged by his Word.
This week, what can you be thankful for? I'm sure there are many good things that come to mind. But what about the fleas? You know, the things that disrupt life and cause discomfort, trouble, and pain. Often, they come in the form of illness, loss, conflict, guilt, and grief. These things are painful, and we often don't understand why the Lord brings these things into our lives (Let alone why we can be thankful to the Lord for these things). But we can trust our faithful God, who uses even fleas for our good and not our harm (Romans 8:28; James 1:2-4).
Spend some time this week thanking God for the fleas.