Radical Gratitude, Fleas and Nazis

by | Apr 5, 2020 | Gratitude, Thankfulness, Trials

During World War II, Corrie ten Boom’s family sheltered many Jews who were fleeing the Nazis.

The Nazi police seized Corrie, her sister Betsie, and their father. They ended up in a concentration camp, all the while holding firmly to the promises of God.

One day, they moved into Barracks 28. The sewers were backed up. The mattresses were soaked with urine. And when they went to bed, they got bitten because the beds were swarming with fleas.

In a near panic, she and her sister wondered what to do. But then, Betsie realized that God had given them the answer that very morning while reading 1 Thessalonians 5:18 – “Give thanks in all circumstances.” (NIV)

So, they made a list. They were thankful that they hadn’t been separated, that their Bibles weren’t seized, and that they were crammed in with so many women that they could minister to and encourage.

Then, Betsie suggested that they even be thankful for the fleas! After all, the verse said to give thanks in all circumstances — not just nice ones. Corrie wasn’t sure, but she did it anyway.

As time when on, they realized that they had a lot of freedom in Barracks 28. So, they started a worship service. Then another. People were hearing the eternal message and hope of Jesus — people who hadn’t heard it before. Women were encouraged and helped in the midst of this hellish experience.

Then one day, they discovered why they had such incredible freedoms. It was because of the fleas! The guards didn’t want to walk into those rancid conditions, so they kept their distance.

Upon learning this, Corrie remembered their prayer of thanksgiving in all circumstances — even flea infestation.

What about us? Are we able to give thanks in all circumstances? Let’s push ourselves to do so. When we make the effort, God reminds us that no matter what we’re dealing with, He’s always loving us, He’s always providing for us, and He’s also guiding us.

It’s human to be thankful when things are good. It’s discipleship to be thankful when times are tough.

Prayer: Lord, when we are in difficult circumstances, remind us to give thanks, for we never know what You have planned for us. Amen.

Matthew Ruttan Barrie, Ontario, Canada


Radical Gratitude, Fleas and Nazis