How could this woman be grateful in a concentration camp?


Corrie and Betsie Ten Boom were Jews who ended up in Ravensbruck, one of Hitler’s infamous concentration camps.Corrie Ten Boom

“While there, they were not only forced to come to grips  with the fact that God had allowed them to experience such travesty, but they also had to contend with the fact that the barracks  where they were assigned  were heavily infested with lice and fleas. …everywhere  she looked,  both day and night, there was misery.  Sleeping in a bed without bugs crawling all over her body didn’t seem like much to ask from God.

When Corrie’s longings  were never realized, her animosity and confusion towards her Creator began to flourish. Her frustration  became evident  when her sister, Betsie was encouraging  Corrie to thank God for ALL things, including the tiny insects that were embedding themselves into her skin.   After hearing her sister’s  counsel, Corrie rebutted, “Betsie, there’s no way even God can make me grateful for a flea.”  Without  her realizing it, God was setting  the stage  to disrupt  Corrie’s faithless obstinacy, and it would  be His eternal  hand that would make  all the difference.

At Ravensbruck, they realized that even though the conditions were far worse  than anything they had thus experienced, hassle from the prison guards  was all but nonexistent.  When the 1500 or more women packed into a room designed for just over a 100 people they were basically left to themselves.

This new “liberty” allowed Corrie and her sister to start Bible studies in the evening which changed the very atmosphere  of the living quarters, not to mention the lives of the women  with whom they were imprisoned..

Towards the end of her life, Betsie explained  the reason for this phenomenon to Corrie:

“you know we’ve never understood why we had so much freedom in the big room” she said, “Well-I’ve found out”

That afternoon, she said, there’d been confusion in her knitting group about sock sizes and they’d ask the supervisor to come and settle it.

“But she wouldn’t. She wouldn’t step through the door and neither would the guards. And you know why?

Betsie could not keep the triumph  from her voice: “because of the fleas! That’s what she said, “that place is crawling with fleas!””

My mind rushed back to our first hour in this place. I remembered Betsie’s bowed head, remembered her thanks to God for creatures I could see no use for”

excerpt from “Christ-Centered  Biblical Counseling” by James MacDonald as general editor

I have found this to be powerful perspective in trusting in God’s sovereignty.  He  can change everything.  Although sometimes we might not understand why things happen like they do, with God there is always hope.

Do you believe that?  Have you given up in any of your trials of life?  Let me encourage you to trust and follow Bessie Ten Boom’s advice and “thank God for ALL things”.



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