Thanking God for fleas

Have you read The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom?

I think I have re-read that book more times than any other.  The conviction and courage of the ten Boom family is inspiring.  Their determination to love others, despite great personal risk and sometimes despite a lack of thankfulness is challenging.

Father ten Boom’s response to the offer of freedom, as a Nazi officer tells him, Old man you can go home if you stop helping Jews, and he replies, If you let me go I will immediately go back to doing what I was going.

Freedom was in his grasp, self-preservation would have been a normal, natural response, but he knew what he believed and he knew what was right, and he would choose right over safety.

But the biggest impact that book has had on me was as conversation between Corrie and her sister. Then arrive at the barracks in the concentration camp to realize that their whole barracks was overrun with fleas. Corrie is miserable and is grumbling about the constant discomfort. Betsie tells Corrie to give thanks for ALL THINGS.  Corrie is adamant that she cannot give thanks for fleas. And who could blame her, right?

Some time later while the women are all in the barracks SS Guards come to the door of the barracks, but do not enter.  They sort of shout their message into the barracks for a certain prisoner to come forward, but they do not go in to retried the prisoner. Confused about why the guards just stood there at the door, a prisoner who preceded the ten Boom sisters explained: they will not come in because of the fleas.


The fleas keep the guards out. Giving the ten Boom sisters much freedom within the barracks to hold Bible studies. open, well worn bible The fleas are a means of God’
s protection to them to prevent the guards from discovering the Bibles and the activities within the room.  The fleas.  Corrie, thank God for the fleas.

How many times in life have you grumbled over circumstances?

Over big things and over “little” inconveniences?  Over the child who takes F-O-R-E-V-E-R to get his shoes on and get out the door when you are already running late. For the baby splattering food on your work clothes, requiring you to go change before heading out the door.

Now, how many times have you paused in that moment to THANK GOD for  the very thing you find an annoyance?

Thank you Lord for this boy he is persistent and is determined to tie His own shoes.  Use that determination for your kingdom.

Thank you Lord for this baby, who has a healthy appetite, and for the food you provide us each and every day.  Thank you that I have a change of clothes available so that I do not have to go into work with stains on me.

Is that how you normally respond?  Is that your reflex?

It’s not mine.  My normal response is grumbling, annoyance, even anger.  My normal response reveals that I see myself as the center of the universe and queen of my home and if circumstances do not orchestrate themselves in such a way as to make my life easier and more comfortable, then by golly, these children may face the wrath of the Queen.

But I do not sit on the throne, King Jesus does. And I do not have a right to demand that others around me operate on egg shells to serve me; I am instead commanded to be a servant, as Christ came not to be served but to serve.

So what can be done about this pattern of wrong thinking?

The same thing Betsie did – thank God for everything and in everything.

For everything?

Yes, EVERYTHING. No exceptions.

At some point today, for me, that will likely look like this:

Thank you Father for these boys and thank you for the fight they are currently having. Their selfishness in this moment reminds me of the inherent sin in all of us, in me and in them.  Lord,  you are reminding me that these boys need a Savior, just like their mom.  Help me to communicate the gospel to them in a way they can understand and apply in this moment.


Lord, thank you for the mess that I again see in their bedroom. You are so good to us, Lord. You have blessed us abundantly. We have an thorough supply of clothing, and plenty of toys and books. Father, help me steward this moment to teach my children responsibility. Help me to act in such a way that they would see Christ in me as I address this mess.


(as interruptions come again – delaying my ability to make lunch) Father, I do not live on bread alone, but by every where that precedes from you. The hunger I feel, may it remind me of the hunger I ought to have for your kingdom. As I deal with this distraction/interruption/etc would I show the patience and love of my Lord.

My view of life is so very myopic. Intentionally speaking words of thanks to my God, as we are told to do in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, reorients my thinking away from myself and towards the heavens, towards the One who rules over the heavens.  It reminds me that I am NOT the center of the universe – that I do NOT know all – but that I am to walk in faith and submission to the ONE who DOES rule all and IS the center: CHRIST.

Such intentionality still does not come naturally for me. It would be much easier to grumble and complain. But if Romans 8:28 is true, then even those moments of interruption are God’s plan to work good in my life.  It is an opportunity to grow in patience. It is an opportunity to show grace or mercy of love or all three to the object of the delay. It is an opportunity to put aside my agenda and embrace the agenda the Lord has for me at that moment.

So, Lord, I thank you for all the derailments you will bring today. Each and every interruption Each disappointment. Each no answer you offer in response to prayer. I thank you for each child conflict, and every moment that does not go exactly the way I planned for it to go today.  I trust that you have a bigger and better plan, and trust that you are working good all the while.

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